Brussels restarts Italian budget battle with threat of fines

The European Commission on Wednesday launched a disciplinary process against Italys defiance of EU spending rules — despite Romes promise six months ago to comply.

The EUs executive arm began the process for a so-called excessive deficit procedure (EDP) during the European Semester, which coordinates economic and fiscal policies across the bloc. Italy could eventually face a €3.5 billion fine.

“We have concluded that the debt criterion is currently not respected and that a debt-based [EDP] is warranted for Italy,” Pierre Moscovici, the Commissions chief for economic and financial affairs, told reporters in Brussels.

The Frenchman also reminded reporters that “the Italian authorities made a commitment in December to avoid any deterioration” in its public debt.

The Commission will now look to the Council of the EU for the green light to go ahead and launch an EDP, which is a punitive process intended to bring government spending back in line with EU rules.

An answer is expected within two weeks.

Rome can still avoid the fine if it convinces Brussels that it will conform to the rules, which limit national budget deficits to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and keep national public debt under 60 percent of GDP.

“My door is opened,” Moscovici said. “Were happy to discuss and listen tRead More – Source