On Monday, the Government of Italy submitted their budget plans for 2019 and, in turn, sparked tension with the EU. The EU commission will now have two weeks to consider the proposals, but it is likely that the continental leaders will disregard Italian ambition and vote down these plans due to a lack of compliance with EU rules. In light of the Brexit negotiations, the events have attracted attention as another example of conflict between a member state and the central European authority.
Officials in Rome have decided upon a deficit goal of 2.4% percent of GDP for 2019. Italy currently has a GDP of €1.89 trillion in 2018, meaning the target would be around the figure of €45 billion. It is a sum three times the target of the previous administration, and therefore has stirred disapproval amongst the EU.
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Nonetheless, despite suggestions that his plans are likely to be rejected, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has proudly defended his government’s spending programme, stating they are “proud of” the budget that Italy was presenting to Brussels. On a similar note, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, and leader of the Northern league, confronted rumours of rejection by directing comments towards EU chiefs, saying he was “extremely happy” with its budget plans. Additionally, he stated: “We are going to Brussels with a budget we are proud of and on which we want to dialogue without prejudice. Austerity is no longer viable.”
The EU now finds itself in a position where it must uphold its principle in order to maintain discipline amongst other EU states. As Euroscepticism is continually creeping, a wrong step could risk inciting more misunderstanding and alienating others around the continent.
Rome’s open challenge to EU rule can scarcely be compared to the heated, and at times uncomfortable, discussions that are taking place between the UK and the EU. Regardless, as the Government of Italy are denied the ability to make their own decisions, it is a reminder to the UK that a departure from the EU will restore the democratic deficit.