EU Commission slams Italy's budget plan as Euro falls

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini launched a tirage against the EU during his visit to MoscowMore

The effect has been to push values down and the interest rate on government bonds, referred to as the yield, to more than three percentage points higher than safer German bonds.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte says he will visit EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the near future to discuss the issue.

Italy's Prime Minister defended its free-spending budget on Thursday, brushing off criticism from Brussels as the European Commission stepped up pressure over a draft it labelled an unprecedented breach of EU fiscal rules. Moody's said the Italian government's budget plans are raising concern over the sustainability of its national debt.

The letter was delivered by European Union economics chief Moscovici during a meeting in Rome with Italian finance minister Giovanni Tria on Thursday.

Moscovici called the difference "unprecedented".

Kurz said: "If one breaks these rules then this means that Italy is endangering itself but of course also is endangering others beyond that".

"Given how damaging Brexit is to the European Union project, a loss of Italy would be devastating and to be avoided at all costs - hence I think (that) Italy's hand is quite strong". "Nor a euro without Italy or Italy without the euro". Italian sovereign debt yields hit fresh multi-year highs by the close of the week, as investors are growing increasingly cautious over lending to the anti-establishment Italian government.

In the first formal step of a procedure that could lead to Brussels rejecting the budget and to fines against Italy, the Commission sent Rome a warning letter on Thursday.

"We have so numerous opponents to the outside, which have an interest to have an Italy precarious, knees and slavish (...), that we have a duty to listen to us", said Mr Salvini, while promising that the text would protect them in spite of "millions of Italians hostage to the tax man".

"I cannot imagine the euro without Italy and Italy without the euro, " Moscovici said after his meeting with Tria during which he delivered the letter.

Both parties want to maintain their populist government at least until the European Parliament elections in May, the outcome of which could shift the delicate balance in the governing coalition. "In contrast, a more lenient approach would further undermine the credibility of the EC's tortuous fiscal rules and irritate some member states from Northern Europe".

In what could be a further source of concern, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, leader of the 5-Star party, said on Wednesday a legislative text on a partial tax amnesty had been "manipulated" before its final approval.

The concerns about the budget Italian, however, have pushed the rating agency Moody's to lower Friday night the rating of Italy by one notch to "Baa2" to "Baa3", the last level of investment grade. The 5-Star movement opposes such a move because it could benefit organized crime or tax cheats hiding money aboard.

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