Italy's premier says budget deal wasn't dictated by EU

Italy's premier says budget deal wasn't dictated by EU
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte gestures during a year end press conference in Rome, Italy, Friday, Dec.28, 2018. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

ROME (AP) — Italy’s premier has denied that the country’s new budget was dictated by the European Commission, saying that he held firm on key points including a basic income for job-seekers and rollbacks in an unpopular pension reform.

Premier Giuseppe Conte told reporters in the government’s traditional year-end press conference Friday that “it is not that Brussels made us rewrite the budget. That is erroneous. It is the budget we always wanted.”

Italy spent three months locked in a battle with Brussels over Rome’s budget, which the European Commission initially rejected. The new draft lowers the budget deficit to 2.04 percent of GDP from 2.4 percent of GDP.

Conte acknowledged that he erred in increasing taxes on non-profit sector workers, and said that it would be rectified.