The government’s response to the EU commission included an unaltered base budget, with the addition of some safeguard clauses to avoid the deficit target going over the 2.4 per cent predicted by government.

The EU had previously said that the budget’s growth forecasts were “unreasonably optimistic”.

The response arrived from Rome just minutes before the Tuesday midnight deadline, which was allocated last month after the EU commission took the unprecedented step of asking a member state to revise its draft budget.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was joined by Economy Minister Giovanni Tria and his two deputies, Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio, at a summit meeting prior to the response.

“In the letter to the EU, we have included safeguard clauses to avoid the target going over 2.4 per cent in case the government’s growth projections are not confirmed,” Di Maio said.

“We are convinced that this is the budget that will restart the country.”

The government will go ahead with its plan, which includes refunding those citizens who lost savings in a bail-out of four banks by the previous government, as well as providing funding to the 11 regions affected by extreme weather conditions.

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said the government will pursue its big-spending strategy which will “guarantee more jobs, more pension rights and fewer taxes not for all but for many Italians”.

According to The Guardian, analysts have said that the defiance of Italy is part of a strategy by Salvini to stir anti-EU anger among voters ahead of the European elections.

It has also been speculated that the government may make some budget changes behind the scenes, or risk having sanctions imposed by the EU.