We didn't back down says Conte after EU budget deal

Premier reports to Senate after infringement procedure averted

(see related) (ANSA) - Rome, December 19 - Premier Giuseppe Conte said Wednesday that he did make any compromises on the key measures in the government's budget plan as he reported to the Senate after reaching a deal to prevent the European Commission opening an infringement procedure against Italy. "Over the last few weeks we worked to bring the positions closer without ever moving backwards with respect to the objectives the Italian people set us in the March 4 election," Conte said. "We did not give way over the contents of the budget". Conte said that Italy had agreed to run a deficit of 2.04% of GDP next year under the agreement, compared to 2.4% in the government's original budget plan. But he said this would not make a difference to the plan to bring in the 'citizenship wage' basic income for job seekers and the 'quota 100' pension reform that will bring the retirement age down for some groups of people early next year. "The economic-financial estimates about the measures that attracted the most attention of our European partners revealed that the resources (needed) were less than forecast," Conte said. "This made it possible to reduce the deficit from 2.4% to around 2.04% without changing the contents, nor the people eligible, nor the time frame of the two measures. "They will start as planned". Conte said that the government has revised down its GDP growth forecast for Italy for 2019 from 1.5% to 1%. "In the letter (I sent) to the European Commission, in addition to new quantifications, I pointed out that amendments will have to take account of the evolution of the macroeconomic outlook and its deterioration, in particular due to the slowdown in international trade," he said. "The slowdown of the cycle takes next year's GDP (growth) to 1%".