Italy wants EU ‘flexibility’ over budget
Milan: Italy’s populist government said the EU must show flexibility over its big-spending budget because the country had to cope with a series of natural disasters, including floods and a deadly bridge collapse in Genoa.
According to a copy of a letter sent Tuesday to Brussels insisting there would be no budget changes, the government said the EU should show “flexibility given exceptional events… (and) exceptional spending.”
About 30 people died in storms and floods in Italy early this month, mainly in the northeast.
A total of 43 people were also killed when a decades-old bridge in the port city of Genoa collapsed in August, a disaster that stunned and angered the country and forced authorities to launch a maintenance plan for the road network.
Economy Minister Giovanni Tria told Brussels that over the next three years, making good the damage caused would cost the government about 0.2 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The government earlier defied the European Commission — which rejected the budget outright last month in a first for the EU — and said it would not abandon its big-spending plans aimed at getting the stalled economy moving again.
“The budget will not change, neither in its balance sheet nor in its growth forecast. We have the conviction that this is the budget needed for the country to get going again,” Italian Deputy Premier Di Maio, who leads the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S), said late Tuesday.