The leaders of Italy’s ruling populist parties have backed down from a fight with the European Commission over their 2019 budget.
Luigi Di Maio, the labor minister and leader of the Five Star Movement, and Matteo Salvini, the interior minister and leader of the far-right League, said after a meeting on Sunday that they had given their blessing to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s revised spending plan, which reduces next year’s shortfall from 2.4 to 2 percent of GDP. Read more
The Financial Times reports that Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel have made a “breakthrough” on eurozone reform: the French and German leaders agree the currency union should get its own budget.
The move is good news for the French president, who has long believed that giving the single currency area its own resources will make it more resilient to economic crises.
But it is unlikely to come into being any time soon. Read more
The European Commission has told Italy to revise its budget for 2019, accusing it of “openly and consciously” reneging on the commitments it has made.
This has been reported as the commission “rejecting” Italy’s budget proposal, but that is too strong a term. It has no such power.
Here is what’s really going on — and what is likely to happen next. Read more
What a disappointment Paul Ryan has turned out to be.
The Republican congressman from Wisconsin, who leaves the speakership of the House of Representatives — and politics — early next year, was hailed as the last best hope of fiscal conservatism in the United States, but in fact his much-reviled predecessor, John Boehner, did more to shrink the deficit. Read more
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez has negotiated a spending deal with the far-left Podemos party that could keep him in power for another year.
Sánchez’ Socialist Workers’ Party does not have a majority of its own. In addition to Podemos, it leans on the support of regionalist parties in the Spanish Congress.
Some of them have mounted a challenge, though: the Catalans have proposed trading their support for a legal and binding referendum on Catalan independence. Sánchez has ruled that out.
He may just get his budget through if one of the Catalan parties abstains and parties from other regions vote with him. But it will be tight. Read more
I cheered too soon. A few weeks ago, I reported that Italy’s populists were coming to terms with reality. Now they have introduced a spending plan that puts them on a collision course with the European Commission and financial markets.
Reneging on the commitment of the last government, the coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League, formed four months ago, proposes to run a deficit equal to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2019.
That is still below the EU’s 3-percent ceiling, but it is a reversal of the fiscal consolidation path followed so far and it means Italy’s public debt, already one of the highest in the world at 130 percent of GDP, will rise rather than fall. Read more