October 18, 2018 / 5:22 PM / a year ago

Italy's Conte downplays Rome's breach of EU fiscal rules

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte holds a news conference at the European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium October 18, 2018. REUTERS/Toby Melville

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Thursday its deviation from EU fiscal targets was “not large”, as the European Commission warned of “particularly serious non-compliance” in its draft budget for next year.

He also said the government was talking to rating agencies and was hoping that a negative assessment of Italy’s budget could be avoided.

“Talks are taking place at different levels. We hope that once the budget plans will be fully known, a negative assessment could be avoided,” Conte told a news conference in Brussels.

Rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s will review the country’s finances in the coming two weeks.

Conte added that the government will hold a meeting on Saturday to discuss a partial tax amnesty which is part of the budget. It has led to disagreements between the two ruling parties, the 5-Star movement and the League.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; editing by John Stonestreet

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