Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Monday that it would be best for European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic to “apologise and shut up.”
On Monday, Sefcovic told the Italian news agency ANSA that the rise of Eurosceptic sentiments in Italy were a cause for concern and expressed the hope that “Italy returns to being the great G7 country that is strongly pro-EU again.”
Matteo Salvini said that Sefcovic was attacking Italy, the League and the government; he went on to note that “Eurobureaucrats ignored our country’s requests for help to stop the arrivals and saddled us with 700,000 immigrants.”
Salvini then called on Sefcovic to “apologise and shut up.”
This statement does not bode well for a month in which the Italian government will be negotiating its 2019 budget with Brussels. The first draft of the budget will be submitted to the Italian parliament on September 27 and a formal vote will take place on October 20.
The Italian cabinet meets on Tuesday to discuss the 2019 budget. Deputy prime ministers Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini are pushing for a larger deficit than Economy Minister Giovanni Tria.
Tria has told the Eurogroup that Italy will maintain the public deficit below the 2018 1,7% level, Corriere della Sera reported on Monday. In effect, Tria wants to double the 2019 target of 0,8% deficit agreed with the Commission to 1,6%; Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini want to push the deficit further to just under 3% of the GDP.
The minister of the economy is keen to appease members of the Eurogroup as well as markets, amid surging sovereign bond yields, a negative outlook by Fitch Ratings, and decelerating growth.
Meanwhile, the governing coalition wants to push through a two-tier flat tax reform pushed by the Lega and a guaranteed minimum income of €780 championed by the Five Star Movement (MS5). Italy’s public debt stands at 132% debt to GDP ratio, second only to Greece.