Commission to send Rome a letter asking for budget clarification

The European Commission will send the Italian government a letter by tonight “asking to clarify” the contents of its budget draft.

According to one high-level official in Brussels and two government sources in Rome, the Commissions letter is not a rejection of the Italian budget. Commissioner Pierre Moscovici will be visiting Rome on Thursday and Friday, and his meeting with Finance Minister Giovanni Tria is part of that “clarification process.”

Rome will have until early next week to reply to the upcoming letter, after which the Commission will decide whether Italy should revise its budget or not. Should Brussels ask the Italian government for revisions, the League-5Stars coalition would have three weeks to change the text and send it back.

One government source in Rome told POLITICO the coalition has “no intention of changing the contents of a budget that will deliver economic growth to the country and jobs.” The source added that “Moscovici should remember his own country violated the rules for years on end, so he should think twice before coming here to give us a lesson.”

Meanwhile, a source close to President Sergio Mattarella also expressed worries that the “government wont listen to the president nor to Brussels and they will press on with their draft.”

Standard & Poors and Moodys will issue a ratings decision on Italys sovereign debt at the end of next week. One official at Moodys in London said “if theres an informal exchange of letters between Rome and Brussels, well factor it into our decision.”

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