Italy’s Salvini hits back over Brussels’ budget remarks

Italy's Salvini hits back over Brussels' budget remarks
AFP

Rome (AFP) – Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini Tuesday threatened to seek damages from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker for scaring off investors by attacking Rome’s budget plans.

“Juncker and other European bureaucrats’ words and threats continue to increase the spread,” said Salvini, who is head of the far-right League, which governs Italy with the populist Five Star Movement.

The closely-watched “spread” is the difference between the rates on 10-year debt paid by Italy compared with those offered by Germany.

It hit a month high on Monday as fallout from the budget plans continued to shake markets. 

“Is the aim to attack the government and Italian economy? We are ready to ask for compensation from those who wish Italy ill,” Salvini said on Twitter.

Rome on Thursday drafted a budget that raises spending and pushes the public deficit to around 2.4 percent of gross domestic product. That will hike the public debt above its already sky-high level of 131 percent of GDP.

The spread, which stood at 233 points on Wednesday, rose to 267 points on Friday and by Tuesday was at 290 points, according to Italy’s RadioCor agency.

Salvini accuses Juncker of unjustly comparing Italy to Greece by saying on Monday that “after the toughest management of the Greece crisis, we have to do everything to avoid a new Greece — this time an Italy — crisis”.

“I think there was some of which was lost in translation…,” said EU commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas, adding that Juncker had been speaking in German, which was simultaneously translated into English, and from that into Italian.

“It was not said as reported in these dramatic tones.”

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