Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Can Imran Khan's PTI Party Depose the Government?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'The world’s dictators love the unrest in Ferguson'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Montreal Stories

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

More than half of French households will pay no income tax this year

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

#IceBucketChallenge and hashtag activism

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users taking on the "Ice Bucket Challenge" to fight ALS

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Ex-PM Juppé announces bid for 2017 French presidential race

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • IS militants ‘behead’ missing US journalist in gruesome video

    Read more

  • Deadly airstrikes hit Gaza as ceasefire with Israel collapses

    Read more

  • Tentative peace in Ferguson despite second fatal shooting

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Iraqi army clashes with militants in Tikrit after retaking key dam

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

  • ‘Let it be’: Londoners sick of Abbey Road tourists

    Read more

  • Australia to free children from immigration detention centres

    Read more

Europe

Berlusconi wants 'no lessons' on crisis

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-10-24

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Monday there was no need for a lecture from his European partners as he held an emergency cabinet meeting over tough new measures demanded by the European Union.

AP - Premier Silvio Berlusconi lashed out Monday at his German and French counterparts who demanded Italy introduce tough new measures to spur economic growth, chiding them for trying to “give lessons” to Rome and insisting Italy’s economy was stable.

Berlusconi’s pointedly critical statement came as he nevertheless summoned his Cabinet for an emergency meeting to discuss growth measures the European Union has demanded so Italy doesn’t get further dragged into Europe’s debt crisis. The 17-nation

Italy's poor economic climate

eurozone has already been forced to bail out three of its weakest members - Greece, Ireland and Portugal - but could not handle a possible bailout of Italy, the eurozone’s third-largest economy. The Cabinet meeting ended after more than two hours without any major announcements.

The EU wants Italy to reform its labor markets and its inefficient judicial system, considered a main impediment to foreign investment. But Italy’s bickering political parties have suffered near-paralysis when it comes to making substantive structural reforms.

Over the weekend, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued stern warnings to Berlusconi that he must do more. Berlusconi, however, bristled at the criticism, saying Italy was already taking measures to cut its public debt and balance its budget by 2013. “No one in the EU can nominate themselves commissioner and speak in the name of elected governments,” he said. “No one can give lessons to EU partners.”

He criticized the French and German banking systems as needing reform and insisted Italy’s economy was so stable that “no one need fear Europe’s third-largest economy.” That said, he urged Italy’s political factions to work together for the benefit of the country and Europe.
Italy has passed €54 billion ($75 billion) in austerity measures aimed at balancing the budget by 2013, but implementation has been slow and the government has faltered on promised growth measures.

Ministers and lawmakers on Monday were debating measures aimed at raising the retirement age to match that of Germany, which is raising its retirement age to 67 for anyone born after 1964. However, any change in Italy’s retirement age will face fierce resistance from Berlusconi’s main political ally, the Northern League, whose constituency includes workers in Italy’s productive north. Unions also oppose raising the pension age.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini insisted that reforming the pension system wouldn’t damage the rights of retirees. “We want to give people now in their 40s the possibility of having a pension in 20 years.” But he said the system must be reformed, noting “if it doesn’t change, the pension system will be unsustainable.”

Italians feel robbed by the new austerity measures

A weekend EU summit failed to make tough decisions to tackle Europe’s growing debt crisis, but leaders pledged to lay out a concrete measures on Wednesday. They are likely to include actions to recapitalize Europe’s banks, which are expected to have to take steep losses on Greek debt, as well as boosting the eurozone bailout fund.

Italy is feared to be the next nation that could succumb to the crisis and bailing its €1.9 trillion ($2.63 trillion) debt - nearly 120 percent of its GDP - would overwhelm the euro zone and threaten the entire global economy. Berlusconi skipped a court hearing in his Milan corruption trial on Monday to work on meeting the EU’s demands after Italy got unwanted attention from Germany and France, Europe’s largest economies.

“We made it very clear that Italy is a big and important partner for the euro area and that everything needs to be done to live up to this responsibility,” Merkel told reporters after meeting with Berlusconi on Sunday.

“Trust does not just come from a firewall,” she added. “Italy has great economic power but Italy also has a very high overall debt level. And that was to be taken down in the coming years in a credible way.”

Italian officials were particularly irked by a shared smirk between Merkel and Sarkozy at the joint press conference when they were asked if they had received assurances from Berlusconi about reducing the public debt. Frattini called the humiliation “inopportune” while the head of Italy’s industrial lobby, Emma Marcegaglia said it was “unacceptable.” Italy’s borrowing costs to service its enormous debt have been rising over the past months as the government falters on economic reform.

Bank of Italy governor Mario Draghi has warned that without quick action, the growing yields will eat up a significant portion of the austerity measures that Italy adopted in September under pressure from the European Central Bank, which Draghi will head from Nov. 1.

For weeks, the ECB has been buying up billions in Italian bonds, trying to keep Italy’s borrowing costs down.
 

Date created : 2011-10-24

  • MARKETS

    World stocks rally ahead of EU bailout summit

    Read more

  • ECONOMY

    Sarkozy and Merkel set for crunch EU debt crisis talks

    Read more

  • ITALY

    Berlusconi survives 51st confidence vote

    Read more

COMMENT(S)