Italy told its budget is in breach of EU rules

Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria waits for the start of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria waits for the start of a meeting of eurozone finance ministers at the EU Council building in Brussels, Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
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The European Commission warned Italy its budget plans were in serious breach of the rules underpinning the euro single currency and said the country should face sanctions.

The European Union’s executive arm, which supervises national budget plans, has invited eurozone countries to examine its assessment in two weeks. If they agree with it, the commission would launch an “excessive deficit procedure” that could result in fines for Italy.

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The warning, while not rare in EU terms, has been marked by tensions between the commission and Italy’s populist government, which has vowed to continue with its spending plans. “It is with regret that today we confirm our assessment that Italy’s draft budget plan is in particularly serious non-compliance,” EU Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“The situation in Italy is of common concern. Euro area countries are in the same team and should be playing by the same rules.”