"Italy's economy needs reforms," Moscovici says

Paris (AFP) - Italy must present a “credible budget” for the coming year, EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said Thursday, calling the anti-establishment government in Rome a “problem”.

Moscovici, who runs the Commission’s economic and finance portfolio, also called on Italy to cut debt and push economic reform instead of deepening deficits.

The Italian government’s budget plan for next year needs to be “credible in terms of numbers” but also in terms of “structural efforts”, Moscovici said.

“Italy’s economy needs reforms,” he told reporters. “Stopping reforms and printing money instead is not going to save Italy”.

Rome’s debt currently stands at a towering 132 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), making Italy’s the second largest debt ratio in the eurozone after Greece.

“You can’t live with a public-sector debt level of 120 percent,” Moscovici said.

But the anti-EU government in Rome, which brings together the far-right League party and the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement, is under pressure to meet electoral pledges and boost spending instead of slashing its deficit, as promised by the previous government.

“There is a problem and it’s Italy,” Moscovici said. “I will be concentrating on Italy more than on anything else.”

Italian growth is at the bottom of the eurozone range, and the country’s weak productivity is a “massive problem”, the commissioner said.