‘Italy won’t change budget deficit goal despite EU pressure’

Published: October 02, 2018 14:00:03 | Updated: October 03, 2018 18:18:33

Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio - Reuters photo

Italy will not change its budget deficit targets despite pressure from Brussels and its European Union partners, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday.

Italy last week targeted the deficit at 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product for the next three years, tripling the previous goal and bringing criticism from European Commission officials and calls to reconsider the plan.

“We are not turning back from that 2.4 percent target, that has to be clear ... We will not backtrack by a millimetre,” Di Maio said in radio interview.

In other remarks, Di Maio, who leads the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, said there was “no doubt” that the leaders of France and Germany wanted the Italian government to fall, Reuters reported.

Di Maio reiterated his criticism of EU officials for their negative remarks about the budget, which he said had prompted a sell-off of Italian government bonds, and said the government’s adversaries were hoping to use financial markets to weaken the ruling coalition.

Those attempts would fail, Di Maio said, because the coalition of 5-Star and the right-wing League that took office in June was totally united.

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