June 5, 2019 / 1:02 PM / 21 days ago

Di Maio says EU unfair to Italy over budget but government ready to talk

FILE PHOTO: 5 Star leader and Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio presents his EU election program in Rome, Italy, May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Wednesday that Italy wanted constructive talks with the European Commission over its budget, but complained that Brussels had treated Rome unfairly.

The European Commission concluded earlier on Wednesday that Italy was in breach of EU fiscal rules because of its growing debt, a situation that justifies the launch of a disciplinary procedure.

“We will go to Europe and sit around a table with responsibility, not to destroy but to construct,” the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement said on Facebook, in the first reaction from the government to the EU move.

“But it’s very annoying that every day a new way is found to speak badly about Italy and this government.”

He said other countries had pushed their budget deficits far above EU rules but had never received sanctions like those threatened for Italy. He added that the government had no intention of changing a pension reform which Brussels criticizes.

Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer

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