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The European Commission formally warned Italy late Thursday that its budget plans for 2019 are a serious concern, launching a high-stakes process that could see Rome hit with unprecedented sanctions for breaking commitments to Brussels.

The meeting came as Italy's premier wrapped up a day in Brussels explaining the Italian budget draft to Italy's partners, including the leaders of Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Rome's calls for European Union funding to Russian small firms are not expected to be reflected in the joint document that European Union leaders will approve at the end of their meeting this week, diplomats said.

"As long as I'm head of this movement and a minister of this government I'll always guarantee that Italy remains within the euro and in Europe", he added.

The letter stated that Italy's budget proposal, which was initially announced in September was in contravention of the EU's budget regulations.

The letter was issued as European Union leaders gathered for a two-day summit in the Belgian capital which was dominated by Brexit, but where the state of Italy's finances was also on the agenda.

The government's budget plan targets a decrease of the deficit to 2.1 per cent in 2020 and 1.8 per cent in 2021. He said the main concerns revolve around the higher deficit, Italy's debt load and the possibility for growth.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he would visit EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the near future to discuss the issue.

Bonds plunged Thursday as the European Union's executive body dispatched a letter to the Italian government requesting changes to its draft budget plan by October 22.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte, who is due to meet Putin in Moscow next week, has also slammed the sanctions, saying: "They damage our companies, which we intend to protect, as well as Russian society". He told a late-night talk show that the draft budget presented to President Sergio Mattarella's office contained a proposal to extend a tax amnesty on money held overseas and brought back to Italy.

While 5-Star has opposed tax amnesties in the past, the right-wing League, with its traditional voter-base of self-employed businessmen, has pushed for the measure, arguing it could raise billions of euros for the cash-strapped treasury.

"A harsh rebuke and the threat of further measures would likely boost the popularity of the populist coalition government", giving Italy's governing parties "an invaluable narrative to use during the campaign for the European elections in May", Piccoli said.

"I am beginning to get cross because at that cabinet meeting, Conte read (the text) and Di Maio wrote (the minutes)", Salvini said.

Rutte said in a statement that he expressed Dutch concerns regarding Italy's budget plans and said he was giving "full support" to the European Commission, which is vetting the draft after having expressed its skepticism.

The Italian government expects the European Commission to decide for the first time ever on Tuesday to ask a member state to revise its draft budget, a government source said on Sunday.


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