The Italian Government has overlooked calls from the European Commission to reconsider the budget plans that they previously set out. Disregarding the midnight deadline on Tuesday, the Italians refused to back down over ambitious fiscal targets that seek to reduce the deficit by 2.4 per cent.

Following a cabinet meeting Matteo Salvini, the Deputy Prime Minister, released a statement that insisted the deficit target would remain at 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and its growth forecast at 1.5 per cent.

These targets are part of a big spending strategy, which will comprise of an increase in asset sales and is designed to fulfil the election promises of wiping public debt and boosting domestic economic growth. It will also include higher welfare payments and a commitment to financial manoeuvrability to guarantee a reduction in the retirement age.

The situation is an unprecedented one – it is the first time that there has been a block of budget proposals in the EU’s history. The Mediterranean nation has continued to come under substantial pressure to revise its budget. Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and EU Commission disagreed with the Italian propositions; the former predicating that Italy’s budget would only increase the deficit further to 2.7 per cent of GDP in 2019, and the latter estimating it would in fact rise to 2.9 per cent of GDP in 2019.

Many commentators suspect that the defiance of EU authority is part of a wider strategy, conceived by the Italian coalition, to create anti-EU sentiment amongst the electorate ahead of the European elections. With Brexit dominating the spotlight, the Italian Government’s actions are another example of the anti-EU anger quietly developing across the continent.

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