EU's Rehn sees Italy bringing budget deficit into line

Italy is likely to be removed from the list of European Union countries with excessive budget deficits as soon as May, the European commissioner for monetary affairs said on Wednesday.

Speaking after issuing a report on macroeconomic imbalances across the EU, Olli Rehn said the Commission's decision to work with Italy to pay down debt owed to small and medium-sized companies would help reduce the government's deficit.

"This will facilitate the exit of Italy from excessive deficit procedure, which I consider a very high probability once we see the final figures in May in the context of our spring forecast," Rehn told reporters.

(Reporting by Martin Santa and Jan Strupczewski; writing by Luke Baker)