Pride and Prejudice in Italy’s Budget Battle with Brussels

A student rebellion in surprising quarters broke out today in Italy and will continue until Sunday evening. Ahead of the European Commission’s judgement on Italy’s 2015 budgetary plan on Monday, the Italian Finance ministry has launched a twitter campaign, hashtag #prideandprejudice, which intends to demonstrate Italy’s merits with regard to public spending as well as ‘fighting prejudice and representing a country to be proud of’.

In the first instalment of what will be a daily campaign of self-sponsorship, the Italian government tweeted a graph comparing EU states’ primary surplus.

Pier Carlo Padoan, the Italian Finance Minister said he was ‘pretty fed up of being told by eminent colleague ministers that we have to demonstrate that we know how to spend money and not to ask the EU for money…I expect that our qualitative efforts concerning public expenditure and structural reforms, which are strongly complementary to the Budgetary Plan, will be recognised”.

The six day campaign will highlight ‘…Italy’s virtues on the international economic scene’ and is likely to include data on the speed of public debt growth as well as the deficit/GDP ratio.

‘Italy is often judged in the International community on the basis of a series of negative indicators but alongside these there is an economic greatness which represents Italy as what it is; one of the main countries in the developed world, the second largest manufacturer in Europe and the third largest economy in Europe. A country that has proved in the last twenty years that it knows how to keep its expenditure under control and is one of the most virtuous in Europe and the world’.

Jyrki Katainen, the EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, has expressed concerns over Italy’s use of EU funds, the delays in privatising state companies and the implementation of the spending review and we will find out on Monday whether the Italian government’s campaign will be sufficient to overcome the prejudice in Brussels.

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