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Italy calls for extension of EU budget rules suspension without reform

FILE PHOTO: Italy's PM Meloni holds her end-of-year news conference in Rome

ROME (Reuters) - Italy will propose extending the suspension of existing EU budget rules if European Union countries fail to reach an agreement on how to reform them by the end of 2023, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday.

The EU rules, called the Stability and Growth Pact, have been on hold since 2020 to help governments deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine on energy and food prices.

"It would be dramatic return to old budget rules," Meloni told reporters during a press conference.

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Editing by Keith Weir)