Commission warns Italy, France on their 2018 budgets


French president Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni attend the 34th French-Italian summit | Guillaume Horcajuelo/EPA

Italy’s public debt is set to increase to 132.1 percent, and France’s spending plan suggests “a significant deviation” from its fiscal target.

Italy and France are set to be among the chief offenders of the EU’s budget deficit rules, the European Commission said today, after scrutinizing their draft budgetary plans for next year.

The EU’s executive arm singled out Italy for its “high government debt,” calling it “a reason for concern” in a statement on Wednesday. Italy’s public debt is set to increase to 132.1 percent of economic output this year and 130.8 percent in 2018.

France’s spending plan, meanwhile, suggests “a significant deviation” from its fiscal targets that the Commission has demanded of the country.

All in all, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, and Slovenia all “pose a risk of non-compliance” to the rules, which set a 3 percent of GDP limit on the budget deficit and a 60 percent of GDP ceiling on public debt.

The Commission unveiled the chief offenders in its “European Semester Autumn Package,” which the institution uses as a platform to announce how compliant EU countries are with the bloc’s fiscal rules.

All eurozone countries are put under closer scrutiny by the Commission, which assesses draft budget plans to ensure that they stay within the agreed fiscal rules — Greece is excluded from scrutiny as it’s currently part of a bailout program.

The draft plans of Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, and Luxembourg are “compliant” with the rules, the Commission added, while those of Cyprus, Estonia, Ireland, Malta, and Slovakia are “broadly compliant.”

Source: Politico

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