The European Union’s tough stance on Brexit could be bad news for Italy’s populist government, which is battling with Brussels over its spending push to fund election promises.
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte spent the weekend lobbying Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron and European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels.
As reported by Bloomberg, if Conte and his euroskeptic deputies Matteo Salvini of the far-right League and Luigi Di Maio of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement were hoping for concessions from the EU, the stance on Brexit must have left them disappointed.
Conte is expected to brief the pair in Rome on November 26 evening, with still no end in sight to the budget standoff.
All Conte won at a working dinner with Juncker on November 24 was a pledge to continue talks over coming weeks as Italy seeks to avert, or delay, possible fines.
“There’s a good atmosphere, mutual trust,” Conte told reporters after the summit. “We’re confident we can complete the process to our mutual satisfaction.” Asked if he would discuss lowering the 2.4% target, Conte replied: “We always discuss the reforms and what is needed to carry out the promises we have made.”
“We are not in a war with Italy,” Juncker said on November 25. He added, speaking in Italian: “Ti amo Italia (I love you Italy.)” Juncker said he and Conte had agreed to keep in “permanent contact” to help reduce the differences between the two sides.