European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici has threatened Italy with an infringement process that could lead to sanctions as populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini vows no new Italian budget.
Mr Moscovici warned the populist Italian coalition government that “at present as far as debt is concerned, an infringement procedure would be necessary,” which could lead to heavy fines for the Italians, Il Giornale reports.
Following the warning, Moscovici backtracked slightly claiming that he was not a fan of the sanctions process saying, “I have never been a partisan of sanctions. I think sanctions are always a failure.”
“I have always been a commissioner in favour of flexibility, open to dialogue between Rome and Brussels, linked to an Italy that remains the centre of the eurozone,” he added.
“For Italy the door remains open, the hand outstretched. We must seek, with all our strength, shared solutions in the interest of the Italians and the eurozone,” he said.
The remarks are a far departure from Moscovici’s previous rhetoric toward the Italian populists in which he labelled Italy a “problem” for the European Union and denounced populists across the continent as “little Mussolinis.”
Trump Backs Italy as Salvini Tells EU: ‘We Are Not Changing a Comma of Our Budget’ https://t.co/Gs9VIQsyPo
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In October, he even went as far as to refer to a member of the League in the European Parliament as a “fascist” when MEP Angelo Ciocca seized Moscovici’s papers following a speech on the Italian budget, removed his shoe, and symbolically “trampled” on them.
League leader Matteo Salvini reiterated his stance on not changing the budget this week, reacting to the threat of sanctions saying, “There will be the economic budget that Parliament has to approve, so it would seem original and not generous for someone from the European Union to take sanctions before the budget exists.”
“We are not a monarchy but a parliamentary republic. So until it passes by the Parliament the budget does not exist,” he added.