Rome vs Brussels: the verdict on the 21st
In a few hours, Rome could see an unprecedented clash with Brussels over its high spending budget plan.
On Wednesday the European Commission is going to present its opinion on the draft budget presented by all member states. All eyes will be on Italy, as it is very likely that the executive body of the EU will give a negative opinion on the plan submitted by the government, that sets a budget deficit at 2.4%, well beyond the recommendation of the Commission.
But that's not all. It is very likely that the European Commission will publish a report on Italian debt. This report is crucial because it is a necessary step to allow the Commission to propose to member states to open the procedure against Italy for excessive debt.
EU governments will have two weeks time to give their own assessment to this report and decide whether or not to support this procedure.
"It is difficult as now to say when this assessment will be: the earlier day possible is the third of December or in January", Beda Romano correspondent for the economic newspaper Il sole 24 ore, explains. "Italy is isolated on this issue, some countries are more vocal than others (like Austria and The Netherlands) others are more cautious, but the meetings of finance ministers that have taken place over the last few weeks have shown that there is broad support for the Commission's way of dealing with this issue and clearly isolation of Italy, compared to other member states”.
The procedure for excessive debt
This procedure has never been applied so far: it would force Italy to clean up its finances, by introducing specific measures to reduce public debt in a specific period of time.
"So far a number of countries have been subjected to the procedure for the excessive deficit, but a procedure for excessive debt has never been opened before. We are in unchartered territory because we don't have a precedent, we don't have examples in the past and the treaties give discretion to the Commission and to member states on how to apply the procedure", Beda Romano points out.
There is discretion above all on the timeline. There will probably be reports on how Italy has implemented these measures every three months or six months, depending on negotiations between Italy, the other member states and the European Commission.