ITALY has approved plans to cut its budget deficit by an extra £2.88 billion (€3.4 billion) in an effort to placate its EU partners and the European Commission.

The measures were only agreed by Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni’s centre-left cabinet following heated debates, which offered a taste of the bigger challenges yet to be faced in the autumn with a new budget.

The upcoming budget is expected to have very little room for growth-boosting policies and will set the tone for the 2018 general election.

Following a two-hour cabinet meeting to approve the measures, Mr Gentiloni said: “We are delivering a message of strong reassurance that our accounts are in order, and not because of higher taxes.

“We are continuing to follow the path of reforms and growth.”

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