Eurosceptic leader Matteo Salvini insisted Italy’s coalition Government would put the needs of Italians before the commitments made to the European Union.
The Lega leader told Il Sole 24 Ore he would make sure to deliver on the pledges of his manifesto “whether the European Union likes it or not”.
Mr Salvini said: “We will also commit economically to kickstart in that sector the same revolution we started on immigration policy. I remember what we promised to do, whether the European Union like it or not.
“We’ll do anything to respect the European obligations with the new budget but the rights of Italians come first. Right to work, to pension, to health.”
Italy began talks for its 2019 budget on August 3, putting forward proposals that could effectively endanger the links between one of the EU founding members and the bloc.
The bold plans would include the implementation of a new flat tax and the creation of citizen’s income measures costing more than £89bn (€100bn) despite the Government pledging to keep the country’s deficit within the 3 percent limit imposed in Brussels.
The coalition Government composed by Lega and the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) has called for sweeping fiscal reform, with Mr Salvini advocating tax cuts for business and individuals and M5S demanding the creation of a so-called citizen’s income for poorer Italians.
Earlier this week Mr Salvini also warned Italy would be prepared to veto any future decisions from the EU that will not be taken in the interests of its economic future.
Mr Salvini said: “We have put many issues on Brussels’ table to be discussed in the coming months.
“On the economy, agriculture, trade agreements, immigration and Russia.
“We aim at working in the next few weeks towards a mutual agreement but if we are forced to veto decisions as our last resource, we will.
“We want to try to convince Brussels first. If we can’t convince them we will resort to a different strategy.”
Mr Salvini’s stern message to the bloc was reinforced by M5S leader and co-deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who vowed Rome will go ahead with its reforms despite concerns from Brussels.
When asked how the government will proceed with its announced financial measures, Mr Di Maio said: “We have in mind an ambitious Budget law.
“There is no need to cut our links to the EU, but we will have to have an effective and sincere dialogue to be able to obtain some things we deemed vital.
“We have two emergencies in Italy, the flat tax, which needs to be done, and the level of poverty.
“Five million people are living in a situation of extreme hardship.”