Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

Berlusconi: Other EU states in no position to 'give lessons'

  • Italy is under mounting pressure from the rest of Europe to push through austerity and structural adjustment despite fierce domestic opposition (Photo: Alessandro Marotta)

Other European states are in no position to "give lessons" to Italy, the country’s prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has said, lashing out at mounting pressure on Rome to bring an end to internal political divisions and push through radical adjustment measures.

"Nobody in the union can appoint themselves administrators and speak in the name of elected governments and the peoples of Europe," the Italian leader said in his communique on Monday (24 October).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"No one is in a position to be giving lessons to their partners."

The missive followed a humiliating EU summit in Brussels on Sunday for Berlusconi where the Italian leader was browbeaten behind closed doors for his government’s inability to make good on promises of austerity and an overhaul of the country’s economy.

Later, EU presidents, Jose Manuel Barroso of the commission and Herman van Rompuy, of the EU Council, publicly demanded that member states return to Brussels by Wednesday with clear commitments on how they will put their fiscal house in order. While Italy was not mentioned by name, Rome was the intended target of the pointed remarks.

A knowing glance and smirk between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a joint press conference on Sunday evening when asked by a reporter if they had faith that Italy would deliver was perhaps the most humbling for Berlusconi.

Newspapers across the country were quick to highlight the shame heaped on Italy by the belittling body language, which told the world much more than any public statement what the EU’s two major powers really think of the state of the country’s governance.

The angry letter from Berlusconi’s office went on to say how Italy had "already done and is trying to complete what is in both the national and European interest as well as in line with its sense of justice and social fairness."

The missive pointed out that the need for a second round of bank bail-outs is "particularly" a concern for France and Germany. Italian banks for their part are in a safer position than Paris-based financial institutions, which are heavily exposed to Greek debt.

The statement was released ahead of an emergency cabinet meeting that despite two hours of discussions ultimately produced little that could assuage Franco-German worries despite Italy's big promises on reform.

Cabinet disagreements notably over changes to retirement age remained unresolved, according to domestic sources.

The governing party’s key coalition partner, the Northern League, has repeatedly said it will not support a hike in the retirement age from 65 to 67, a warned re-issued on Monday by the party’s parliamentary leader.

Following the inconclusive cabinet meeting, Berlusconi continued talks with Northern League ministers and finance minister Giulio Tremonti.

In August, the European Central Bank stepped in with massive purchases of Italian and Spanish government bonds in an effort to bring down the cost of borrowing for the two countries.

While the programme was initially successful, Italian 10-year bond yield are now close to six percent - within spitting distance of the levels hit in the summer.

EU should raise own taxes, says report

A group chaired by former Italian PM and EU commissioner Mario Monti says Brexit should be used to create EU-level levies to depend less on member states contributions, and to abolish member states rebates in the EU budget.

News in Brief

  1. VW's internal Dieselgate probe not yet done
  2. Israel defies EU policy with huge settlement expansion
  3. Martin Schulz to be candidate for German chancellor
  4. EU commission gives MEPs Dieselgate paper at last moment
  5. EU parliament committee backs EU-Canada deal
  6. UK MPs must vote on Brexit trigger, court rules
  7. Greek island mayors plead for the transfer of migrants
  8. Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels trip amid war crimes probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsKyrgyzstan: no Justice for Human Rights Defender Azimjan Askarov
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  3. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  4. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  5. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  7. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  8. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  10. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  11. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  12. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism

Latest News

  1. No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission
  2. EU to Trump: Protectionism is 'doomed to fail'
  3. The French town that swung from socialist to far-right
  4. UK parliament must give Brexit approval, judges rule
  5. 'No indication' VW used EU loans to cheat
  6. Fillon promotes pro-Russia views in Berlin
  7. Dutch PM tells people to 'act normal, or go away'
  8. EU to step up effort against Russian and Islamist propaganda