Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte responded to comments made by the EU Commission president, who said Italy was “moving in an unsound direction”. Mr Juncker warned of an infringement policy against Italy for excessive debt, saying: “Italy is moving in a wrong direction. I don’t want to humiliate Italy, but it’s a serious problem. Italy is Italy and has the problems of Italy, different from the problems of other countries, but similar in some respects we are introducing these flexibility measures.
“The recognition of structural reforms, taking into account the problems of economic cycles and earthquakes and other problems.
“But nobody in Italy knows this because the Italian government gives the impression that the Commission is against Southern Europe and this is wrong.”
He told Politico: “We think that Italy is moving in a wrong direction, so we have to make important decisions in this field, but I think Italy is likely to be in the process of excessive deficits in the coming years.”
But Mr Conte lashed back at the EU commissioner during a press conference at Palazzo Chigi in Rome, saying European authorities should let the Rome government explain its plans before criticising Italy’s economic policy.
Mr Conte made reference to the bloc’s handling of Greece’s deficit problem.
He told reporters: “With Juncker, I can tell you, I have a very cordial relationship. I would say a friend, he has been very loyal, even in the very troubled December: he gave a big hand to Italy.