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Italy will use budget flexibility over coronavirus outbreak - Economy Minister

ROME (Reuters) - Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said on Friday Italy would use budget flexibility foreseen by European Union rules to counter the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in its northern regions.

"We will use this flexibility as much as we need," Gualtieri said in an interview with state radio broadcaster RAI.

He added that the trend in public finances is positive and "better than expected" and this could pave the way to a request for a looser application of EU rules.

The virus outbreak will "clearly" hurt Italy's economic growth, the minister said, adding that it was too soon to estimate the extent of the impact.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Angelo Amante, editing by Gavin Jones)