“This is why I would say this is a delicate matter,” Moscovici added.

Italy and the European Commission have been embroiled in an ongoing battle of words over Rome’s 2019 budget. The anti-establishment Italian government has said that it will change previous reforms and raise public spending, bringing the country’s deficit to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2019 —a number that Brussels has already criticized for being three times higher than what Italy had agreed to earlier this year.

“We will have to receive next week the Italian budget. I cannot jump into conclusions,” Moscovici said.

“What I can see from what I know already is that there is a risk of what we call a ‘significant deviation’ according to our rules, which are common to all euro zone members.”

The 2019 budget is set to point to an increase in structural deficit, which excludes growth, by 0.8 percentage points. Rome had told Brussels that the structural deficit in 2019 would be lowered by 0.6 percentage points.

“I urge the Italian authorities to be closer to the medium-term objectives,” Moscovici said.

Last week, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called Moscovici and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, the “enemies of Europe”.

“I am not going to respond to that kind of provocation,” Moscovici said.

Italy is due to submit its 2019 budget plan to the EU by next Monday. The European Commissioner has until the end of November to present its opinion on the financial plan.



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