A certain flexibility could be applied to EU budget rules for countries affected by the Coronavirus, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Paolo Gentiloni said on Wednesday.
This would benefit Italy in particular.
The Union’s stability and growth pact includes flexibility clauses that can be applied in exceptional circumstances, Gentiloni explained at a press conference in Brussels.
He was responding to a question from an Italian journalist regarding statements by the Under-Secretary of the Presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers, Mario Turco, on the specialised Milano Finanza site. Turco had called for flexibility from the European Commission on Italy’s public deficit given the costs stemming from the epidemic.
In recent months, Brussels had continually pressed Rome to reduce its public deficit as the euro zone’s third-largest economy continued to struggle under a debt of €2,300 billion, equivalent to 134.8% of its GDP in 2018.
However, that was before the spread of the Coronavirus to Italy, which has since registered 374 cases and 12 deaths.
Gentiloni said that in the coming months, Europe needed to discuss ways in which “these exceptional circumstances” can be used.
He also recalled that Rome had benefited in the past from flexibility from the European Commission, as in the case of an earthquake that struck the country a few years ago.