Eurozone delivers Italy warning on budget rules
EUROZONE finance ministers firmly warned Italy on Monday to abide by EU rules on public spending, just days after Rome announced a big spending boost in defiance of Brussels. But, meeting in Luxembourg, the ministers also vowed not to rush to judgement on the economic plans laid out by Italy’s populist government, which have already spooked markets and put the country’s already fragile economy under pressure. “I just want to make very clear that ... the rules are the same for every state because our futures are linked,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said ahead of the regular monthly talks with his eurozone counterparts. However, “rushing is not the best advice”, he said, adding that ministers must move ahead “step by step” before coming down on Italy too strongly. The fragile state of Italy’s economy has reawakened memories of the debt crisis amid dangers Italy could face punitive measures by EU partners if it insisted on breaking bloc rules on running excessive deficits and high debt.