Italian parliament approves controversial spending targets

MILAN — Italy's parliament has approved deficit-raising spending targets, defying markets and Italy's eurozone partners who had been pressing for changes.

The parliamentary vote Thursday clears the proposals to be forwarded to the European Commission for review. But the document already has been criticized as unrealistic by the parliament's own budget office and the Bank of Italy.

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The new spending targets are set to raise Italy's deficit to 2.4 per cent of GDP next year. In a slight softening, Italy's leaders pledged to lower the deficit in the subsequent two years.

But that has done little to assuage concern over the boost in spending to meet a raft of campaign promises made by the two populist parties that formed the governing coalition, and the impact it will have on Italy's high public debt.

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