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Italy may get more time to meet EU conditions, says official

Eurogroup president says officials could relax fiscal rules

18 February, 15:16
Italy may get more time to meet EU conditions, says official (ANSA) - Rome, February 18 - The European Commission could choose to give Italy more time to meet its fiscal obligations, easing the country's budget conditions, the President of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Tuesday.

He said that Olli Rehn, European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, has the power to ease conditions and may look favourably on an application from Italy, now emerging from its deepest recession since the Second World War.

"Rehn said Italy is a profoundly pro-European country and takes seriously the commitments of the stability pact," which set out conditions including demanding member states maintain budget deficit-to-GDP ratios of 3% or less.

"But" Rehn also has authority to ease conditions on members if needed, added Dijsselbloem.

Those conditions, set out in a European Stability and Growth Pact, have forced Italy to raise taxes and cut spending to try to keep its deficit under control and begin to pay down its debt.

But many have argued that has actually choked off economic growth and made matters worse in Italy.