STRASBOURG (Reuters) - The European Commission rejected on Tuesday Italy's draft 2019 budget because the plan broke EU rules and asked Rome to submit a new one within three weeks, exercising for the first time a power it obtained during the sovereign debt crisis.
"Today, for the first time, the Commission is obliged to request a euro area country to revise its draft budget plan," Commission Vice President for the Euro Valdis Dombrovskis told a news conference.
"But we see no alternative than to request the Italian government to do so. We have adopted an opinion giving Italy a maximum of three weeks to provide a revised Draft Budgetary Plan for 2019," Dombrovskis said.
Italy sent a letter to the Commission on Monday acknowledging that its draft budget was in violation of EU rules, but insisting it would still go ahead with it.
"Unfortunately, the clarifications received yesterday were not convincing to change our earlier conclusions of a particularly serious non-compliance with the recommendation addressed to Italy by the Council on the 13th of July," Dombrovskis said.
"The Italian Government is openly and consciously going against the commitments it made," he said.
(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski, editing by Robin Emmott)