Commission may act on Italian budget earlier than expected

The European Commission could officially kick off as early as December 19 the disciplinary action it has proposed against Italy for breaching the EUs fiscal rules.

Two EU officials familiar with the situation told POLITICO that the date is being considered, upping the pressure on the Italian government before the countrys parliament votes on Romes 2019 spending plans in late December.

The Commission last week called on the Council of the EU to open a so-called excessive deficit procedure (EDP) against Italy, which it said is in “serious non-compliance” with the blocs budget and debt rules.

The Council was expected to come back with a reply in January. But three officials said the Councils reply is expected as soon as Thursday.

Its expected green light would pave the way for the Commission to prepare an EDP, which would require “effective action” from Rome to bring its public finances back in line with rules.

Under this timeline, EU finance ministers would vote on the EDP proposal when they meet at an ECOFIN meeting in late January.

If ECOFIN back the EDP and Rome fails to act, Italy could ultimately face a fine of up to 0.5 percent of GDP — roughly €9 billion.

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