Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte said the populist government is “forced” to carry on with its hefty reforms by the “economic slowdown and the social emergencies” faced by the country.
In the latest act of defiance, Mr Conte repeated Italy’s target spending is non-negotiable.
And he shrugged off accusations the country’s economy hadn’t improved in the five months after the populist Lega-Five Star Movement coalition was sworn in, arguing the real benefits of their policies will be noticeable only from 2019.
Speaking to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, he said: “Saying the government is responsible for the current unemployment and growth data is unreasonable and profoundly unjust.
“The positive effects of our reforms will be seen from 2019.
“Our revolution has just begun.
“We put the first pieces, but the work to be done is ambitious: we want to change Italy from top to bottom.”
Last month, Italy saw its 2019 draft budget rejected by Brussels, which demanded Rome to issue a revised version within three weeks or face a fine of up to £3billion (€3.4billion).
But Italy has so far insisted it has to increase its deficit to 2.4 percent to carry out reforms, such as the introduction of the basic income and tax cuts, despite this will mean breaking EU fiscal rules.
Italy’s projected GDP for 2019 is expected to be £1.67trillion (€1.87trillion), according to Trading Economics.
If the government ignores Brussels and sets the deficit spending at 2.4 percent of the country’s GDP, then the debt will reach £40.01billion (€44.88billion).
Italy’s budget deficit in 2017 was at 2.3 percent, or £34.77billion (€39billion).
Mr Conte defended once again the budget outlined last month, saying: “The economic slowdown and the social and economic emergencies that Italy must face force us to continue on this path.
“It would have been easy to increase VAT, but we would have triggered a recession.
“This government is an expression of change and it is normal for European markets and institutions to try to understand in what direction we intend to move.
“But I trust that in the confrontation with the European Commission we will succeed in demonstrating the goodness of a growth budget like the one we thought of to change Italy”.
The fiscal manoeuvre will enhance the “enormous growth potential” Italy already has, Mr Conte explained, and help create “a favourable investment climate.”
The prime minister also dismissed his finance minister, Giovanni Tria, who had previously said he didn’t rule out possible changes in Italy’s financial manoeuvre.
He said: “I would not see our dialogue with the European Commission as an exchange of concessions.
“We will explain to our European friends our investment programme and the various measures such as the basic income and the Fornero law, we have conceived in such a way as to guarantee social equity and the renewal of workforce, with evident benefits also on growth.”
The Fornero law, which was approved by parliament in 2011, was named after Elsa Fornero, the then welfare minister part of a technocratic government led by economist Mario Monti.
The law, become one of the symbols of the fiscal austerity imposed to Italy by European bodies, raised the retirement age for both men and women and stopped indexing pensions above a certain income level for inflation.
The belt-tightening manoeuvre aimed at raising cash and reassure markets of Italy’s commitment to spending discipline.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.