On October 23, the EU Commission sent Rome a letter rejecting the budget - a historic first, even if Italy is far from the first country to break the rules of the eurozone.
During Monday's meeting, the Italian finance chief told his colleagues that the country's planned deviation was not huge and that European Union rules allow for some flexibility, while he reiterated his government's commitment to reduce the country's debt load, an official familiar with the discussion said.
Italy still has a week to submit a revised budget, but Salvini's response has been categoric: "No little letter will make us back down".
"Everyone is anxious", says a senior European official, who observes wary of the standoff between the Commission, guarantor of EU budget rules, and Rome, determined to defend its budget 2019, yet completely outside the nails. Italy has the highest debt ratio in the eurozone after Greece, and its plans have unsettled investors, sending its bond yields to multi-year highs last month.More news: Democrats to take control of the US House
No new budget would force the commission to put Italy into something called the "excess deficit procedure", a complicated process that could eventually lead to a fine of 0.2 percent of the country's GDP.
The Eurogroup will not take any decision on Italy's 2019 budget bill today, group chief Mario Centeno said Monday.
In an interview with Bloomberg TV, European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis cited the risk that Italy's economy might "slow even further" under the current plan. Many are concerned that Europe would be subjected to unprecedented financial turmoil if Italy were to lose control of its finances.
The situation is reminiscent of the Greek debt crisis, except with Italy's much bigger and more central eurozone economy at the heart of the storm, the size of the bailout would be so large as to make it virtually impossible. "The rules are the rules", said Moscovici.More news: Democrats retake the House, setting up divided government
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, head of the League, responded by calling on his supporters to demonstrate on 8 December in Rome, to say "peacefully" to the "Gentlemen of Brussels: let us work, live and breathe". We're not in a negotiation. We're not in any discussions. "The rules are the rules".
This would already be more than enough to cause deep concern as eurozone finance ministers meet for the first time since Brussels rejected Rome's 2019 budget.
Italy's deputy prime minister told the Financial Times in an interview published Sunday that he believes Rome's controversial spending plans will become "a recipe" for reviving European growth and that the continent is ready to abandon austerity and embrace the deficit-busting approach of USA president Donald Trump.
But Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria remained steadfast, promising an explanation of its plans to the commission but saying Rome would not abandon its spending boost, that he assured would deliver growth. "I really hope that the Italian government will seize the hand offered,"said French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire".More news: Trump's Republicans hold on to Senate