ROME (Reuters) - Italian Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said on Monday he was hopeful he would have a “constructive dialogue” with the European Union over government plans to lift next year’s budget deficit.
The cabinet earlier agreed to lift the deficit to 2.2% of gross domestic product in 2020 against a previous target of 2.1%.
The government also predicted that the 2020 structural deficit, which is stripped of growth fluctuations and is closely watched by Brussels, would rise to 1.4% of GDP from 1.2% this year — seemingly in defiance of EU rules which call for the number to decline each year towards zero.
In July the European Commission called on Italy to reduce the structural deficit by 0.6 points next year.
The previous Italian government, that included the eurosceptic League party, clashed ferociously with Brussels last year when it pledged to hike the 2019 deficit to 2.4% of GDP as it sought to boost welfare spending.
Speaking to reporters at the end of Monday’s cabinet meeting, Gualtieri also said the government wanted to issue so-called Green Bonds next year to finance environment friendly projects.
Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Crispian Balmer