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EU demands budget clarifications from France, Italy

The European Commission warned Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Belgium that their draft budgets for 2020 could be in breach of the bloc's fiscal rules.

In a letter dated Oct. 22, the EU told the Italian government that its proposed structural balance in 2020 amounting to a reduction by 0.1% of GDP falls short of the bloc's recommended structural adjustment of 0.6% of output.

The EU also sought clarification of why Italy plans to grow net primary government expenditure by 1.9% instead of cutting it by at least 0.1%. Rome avoided a budget disciplinary procedure from the bloc in July.

The EU also sent a warning to France, saying that parts of the country's budget-policy obligations are not in line with the EU's rules on public debt. French President Emmanuel Macron plans to increase spending and cut taxes in a bid to revamp the economy and forestall another widespread national protest, which first erupted in 2018.

Separate letters were sent to Spain, Portugal and Belgium. All five countries submitted their drafts to the EU earlier this month, giving the bloc until November to assess whether their proposals are compliant with its rules.

EU countries are not supposed to have a deficit of more than 3% of GDP or debt over 60% of output, according to the bloc's rules.