Dutch PM accuses EU of laxness in Italy's budget issues

Prime Minister Mark Rutte criticized Brussels for being too lax as far as Italy is concerned. The European Commission must be harsher on Italy for violating budget agreements, Rutte said at an economic summit in Davos. The current state of affairs fosters mistrusts among citizens of other EU member states, including the Dutch, he said, NU.nl reports.

Last month the European Commission decided to refrain from punishment procedures against Italy for failing to comply with European fiscal rules. Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra called this a failed opportunity, but according to the European Commission, the approach of seeking a compromise was supported by all EU countries.

The European Commission is not taking sufficient action against Italy, Rutte said during a debate at the economic summit on Thursday. It is not good if countries like Italy, and France in the past, get away with not putting their own hose in order, the Dutch Prime Minister said. "People now ask me why we should stick to the budget rules, if the Italians and French do not." According to the Prime Minister, this increases the contrast with Northern European countries like the Netherlands, which do implement the necessary reforms and budget cuts.

European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström disagrees with Rutte. "You have to evaluate the consequences of a strict policy", she said. "We do not give Italy license to do what they want. We are currently in discussion with them and hope to get them to follow the agreements."