May 16, 2019 / 2:00 PM / a month ago

In Italy's interest to keep debt under control: EU's Moscovici

European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici presents the EU executive's economic forecasts during a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - It is in Italy’s interest to keep its public debt under control, the European Union’s economic affairs commissioner said on Thursday, warning against suggestions from some Italian officials that an increase in debt would be fine.

“It’s in Italy’s interest to have a credible fiscal policy,” Pierre Moscovici told reporters in Brussels before a meeting of euro zone finance ministers, after EU forecasts last week showed the country’s debt and deficit would rise this year and next.

The commission expects Italy’s debt to grow to 133.7% of gross domestic product this year and peak at 135.2% in 2020, far beyond the EU ceiling of 60%.

But Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said on Tuesday the debt could reach even 140% of GDP if necessary to boost employment in the euro zone’s third biggest economy.

“We think 130% is already a lot,” Moscovici told reporters, adding that Italy’s compliance with EU fiscal rules will be assessed after EU elections on May 23-26.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio

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