Yesterday, Italy submitted its draft 2019 budget to the European Commission with no changes to its growth and deficit projections which had previously been rejected for breaking EU economic rules.
The move increased tensions between Rome and EU leaders who had demanded the Italian coalition government make changes.
Today, finance ministers from France, the Netherlands and Austria all demanded Italy take “responsibility” amid fears Europe can not handle yet another crisis.
Bruno Le Maire, French finance minister, was the first to put pressure on Italy when he spoke of the budget showdown in a tv interview with France 2.
He said: “I hope that the Italian government will show signs of responsibility.”
Mr Le Maire went on to tell the channel the eurozone is not currently in shape to handle another major crisis as the UK attempts to pass the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.
The French statements were backed by the Netherlands and Austria.
According to Italy’s national news agency Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associate (ANSA), Dutch finance minister Wopke Hoekstra said he was disappointed Italy hadn’t made the wholesale changes demanded by the European Commissions.
He said: “It is not very surprising but it is very disappointing that Italy has not revised its budget plan.
“Italy’s public finances are imbalanced and the government’s plan will not bring robust economic growth.”
Meanwhile, Vienna joined in the calls for Italy to change their budget.
According to Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, Austrian finance minister Hartwig Loeger warned Rome his country will insist on reinforcing the fiscal discipline if Italy does not “respect” the European Commission.
Mr Loeger told his Italian counterpart Giovanni Tria: “Contrary to what my colleague says, this is not an internal Italian affair but a European affair.
Last week the EU threatened Italy with massive fines if it did not adhere to the bloc’s economic regulations.
Italy’s populist coalition, headed by economic reformist Giuseppe Conte, vowed not to alter its draft plan despite having some of the highest debt in the world.
Italy’s debt has ballooned to more than £2trillion and has high expenditure targets with increased spending on public welfare and pensions.
Rome says it needs to run its budget with a deficit target of 2.4 percent for next year to fulfil its election promises but the EU has demanded the Italians lower that estimate.