December 6, 2018 / 2:39 PM / 6 months ago

EU says no Juncker-Conte meeting scheduled on Italy budget

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the start of an emergency European Union leaders summit on immigration at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 24, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Pool

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The President of the European Commission and the Italian Prime Minister agreed in a phone call to continue talks on Italy’s 2019 budget but they have not scheduled a meeting yet, a spokeswoman for the EU executive said on Thursday.

Jean-Claude Juncker and Italy’s Giuseppe Conte “last night spoke and agreed to stay in touch, but no meeting was scheduled,” a spokesman for Juncker said.

On Wednesday, Conte was reported as saying he would meet Juncker next Tuesday in Strasbourg, where the Commission holds a weekly meeting.

The talks are aimed at avoiding having the EU open a disciplinary procedure against Rome for its excessively expansionary 2019 budget.

Brussels has rejected the budget, which it says will not lower Italy’s large public debt as EU rules require. It has called on Rome to make changes to prevent the disciplinary procedure, which could eventually lead to fines.

The Italian government wants to avoid such a procedure, but has not so far made concrete changes as requested by Brussels.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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