Eurogroup chief urges Italy to respect debt pledges

Mario Centeno, who chairs meetings of the finance ministers from the 19 countries that use the euro currency, has urged Italy to reassure European partners that it will respect its commitment to bring its deficit down to prescribed rules.

The eurogroup president told reporters in Luxembourg Thursday that "we need to reassure everyone — Italian citizens, firms, European investors — that the commitment is there."

The commission, which supervises the budget plans of the 28 European Union member states, says Italy's public debt stood at 132.2% of the country's annual GDP in 2018, more than double the EU's 60% limit. Italy's debt is forecast to rise further to 135% this year.

Centeno and the other finance ministers from the 19-nation single currency bloc will discuss the issue later Thursday.