EU ramps up Italy debt sanctions threat as minister shrugs off warning
The EU looks increasingly likely to impose disciplinary procedures on Italy over the management of its huge public debt, after inconclusive meetings between with the Italian finance minister.
The EU is urging Italy to adopt new measures to improve its public finances this year and next.
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It has threatened unprecedented disciplinary action over Rome's debt that would entail a prolonged period of oversight of the country and could lead to heavy financial sanctions.
But Finance Minister Giovanni Tria appeared unconcerned by the increasingly threatening tone.
After meetings with EU economics commissioners Pierre Moscovici and Valdis Dombrovskis, he said he was optimistic that Italy could avert the disciplinary procedure. The technocrat minister, who is seen as a moderate in a eurosceptic government dominated by firebrands like far-right leader Matteo Salvini, also said Italy could comply with EU fiscal rules without adopting new measures.
That is because some planned expenditures are lower than initially expected, bringing down the country's deficit, he said. Brussels was unconvinced, however. After the meeting, Dombrovskis reiterated that more was needed. "It is for Italy to come forward with some additional elements, measures that could be taken into account before taking the next procedural steps," he said.