Di Maio slams EU over budget criticisms

Di Maio slams EU over budget criticisms

Populist industry minister and deputy premier Luigi Di Maio on Friday accused the European Commission of electioneering after it wrote to the Italian government querying its expansionary budget plans and requesting changes to them.

"European Union commissioners are not impartial figures," Di Maio said in comments to Italian public broadcaster Rai's Petrolio programme which is due to be aired on Saturday.

"They want to use Italy for electoral campaigning purposes. They are attacking us because they need votes," Di Maio said.

Italy's economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici and European Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis on Thursday wrote a letter to Italy's finance minister Giovanni Tria, which requests an explanation of the planned budget's "significant" and "unprecedented" deviation from EU fiscal rules and asks for changes to it by 22 October.

The draft budget triples Italy's planned deficit next year to 2.4 percent from the 0.8 percent target set by the previous centre-left government, mainly to fund higher welfare spending and cuts to the retirement age.