'The Italian parliament has approved the government’s 2019 budget days before the year-end deadline following a lengthy standoff with the European Union over spending.
Leaders of the country’s ruling populist coalition had been forced to pledge to cut the deficit next year to 2.04 per cent of GDP after Brussels rejected an original target of 2.4 per cent, saying it broke EU fiscal rules.
However, a raft of expensive flagship policies, including a basic “citizens’ income” for some of the poorest in Italian society and a reduction in the retirement age, remain in government spending plans.
The budget, which overcame its final hurdle on Saturday in passing a vote in the Chamber of Deputies by 327 to 228, had prompted concern when it was first presented in October.
The European Commission baulked at the costly policies Italy looked to introduce despite having proportionally the second highest public debt in the Eurozone after Greece, taking the unprecedented step of asking Rome to redraft the plan.
But the Italian government, led by the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League party, struck a late deal with the Commission last week to force though the spending plan, agreeing a number of measures including lowering its seemingly unrealistic growth forecasts.
The budget will still see the introduction of a basic payment of around €780 (£700) a month for those on low incomes, a policy for which the government has set aside somewhere in the region of €10bn (£9bn).
The retirement age will also be lowered from 67 to 62 for millions of people who have paid into the Italian pension system for at least 38 years.'
Read more: Italy budget: Parliament backs lowering retirement age and new basic income after standoff with EU
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