The populist Italian government’s first experiment in challenging Europe appeared to near its conclusion Tuesday with reports of the most conventional of outcomes: an agreement with Brussels bureaucrats.

Just weeks ago, Italy’s leaders were saying they would not compromise in their battle with the European Union over the country’s budget-stretching spending plans.

One coalition party leader, Luigi Di Maio, said the government would “not backtrack by a millimeter.” The other party leader, Matteo Salvini, said Italy wouldn’t “be a servant” to European rules. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was just as direct. “There isn’t any Plan B,” he said in one interview.

But in recent days, Italian officials backed away from that defiant stance, illustrating the limits of a populist government’s ability to quickly upend the norms of Europe.

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