18th Mar 2018

Berlusconi: Life was cheaper before the euro

  • Eurozone break-up rumours are driving up Italy's borrowing costs (Photo: Brett Jordan)

Italians are poorer today than before the introduction of the euro, Prime Minister Berlusconi said Friday (4 November) after failing to gain the trust of world leaders and markets about the reforms his government still has to implement.

"A family used to be able to live easily with two million lire per month, but today that is difficult with one thousand euro," he told press in Cannes after the G20 summit on Friday (4 November). "I don’t blame the euro, I blame the exchange rate."

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The comment is remarkable amid widespread speculation of a potential break up of the eurozone, as several member-states, including Italy, struggle to convince investors of their ability to repay their enormous debts.

Only minutes earlier, it had been confirmed that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will monitor progress on the implementation of planned reforms in Italy. It had even offered to throw the country a lifeline, but that was duly refused.

"Our request to the IMF was never a financial request, but rather one of know-how and experience, to make our commitments even more clear," said Giulio Tremonti, Italy’s finance minister, sitting next to Berlusconi in the press briefing.

The IMF will work alongside the European Commission, who will travel to Rome as early as next week for "a detailed assessment and monitoring" of the reform package, which is still to be approved in parliament.

Herman Van Rompuy, president of the European Council, was quick to attack press questions suggesting the EU had put Italy under a "diktat."

"We haven't put Italy in a corner, not at all. They proposed themselves to invite the IMF," he said.

Berlusconi further said he is not planning to step down and denied rumours of a possible new government of national unity, saying: "I don’t think that is necessary."

He also denied accusations that he himself is to blame for the country’s current lack of credibility. Instead, he said, “It is the result of Italy’s behaviour in the past, of prejudice."

Report: Italy to be put under IMF surveillance

Reuters reports that Italy has agreed to be put under surveillance by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as part of a plan to restore market trust in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

Berlusconi heads to G20 amid mutiny at home

Silvio Berlusconi’s position as prime minister of Italy is increasingly uncertain after a gruelling day of emergency meetings and a growing mutiny at home.

Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks

Angela Merkel - who started her fourth term as Germany's chancellor earlier this week - is wasting no time on big issues like eurozone reforms. On Friday she is meeting Emmanuel Macron where the two will seek common ground.

EU insists on US tariffs exemption

Europe is "an ally, not a threat", the EU Commission says - as the US is poised to impose duties in steel and aluminium. Common action on Chinese steel overcapacity could help diffuse the crisis.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

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