Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

Italian rivals say country should stay in euro

  • Di Maio (c): "No longer right moment for Italy to leave" (Photo: camera.it)

Two leading opposition figures in Italy have said the country should stay in the euro, soothing tension around this year's big domestic EU election.

"I believe it is no longer the right moment for Italy to leave the euro," Luigi Di Maio, the head of the 5-Star Movement, said on Italian TV on Tuesday (9 January).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Berlusconi trying to make a comeback from scandals (Photo: Nela Lazarevic)

He said "there will be more space for Italy" to steer EU policy in future because "the Franco-German axis is no longer as strong as before".

The 5-Star Movement had previously called for a referendum on the single currency, but it rowed back from that position in recent months, with Di Maio saying on Tuesday that "a referendum is a last resort, which I hope to avoid".

Di Maio's party is in the lead ahead of the general elections on 4 March with 28 percent of support, according to a survey by pollster Tecne Italia out on Monday.

Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's former leader, also defended euro membership on Tuesday.

Berlusconi, who crashed out of Italian politics in sex and fraud scandals seven years ago, is trying to make a comeback by teaming up with the far-right Northern League party led by Matteo Salvini.

"Salvini is no longer of the idea that we should leave the euro … He has understood that it would be technically impossible and unsustainable for our economy," Berlusconi said on Italian radio.

The Berlusconi-Salvini bloc, which also includes two minor parties, the far-right Brothers of Italy and the centre-right Us with Italy, is forecast to win the most votes with 39 percent combined.

But the Northern League immediately refuted Berlusconi's comments, posing questions on the unity of the grouping.

"One second after the League is in government, it will begin all possible preparations to arrive at our monetary sovereignty. It's a question of national security," Claudio Borghi, the party's economics spokesman, said on TV also on Tuesday.

The pro-EU centre-left bloc, which is led by the Democratic Party of prime minister Paolo Gentiloni and which includes three smaller parties, is polling at 28 percent combined.

Raw nerves

Tuesday's euro debate in Italy is likely to calm nerves on the future of the eurozone's third-largest economy and on broader EU stability.

The EU, earlier last year, looked like it could break apart due to the Brexit referendum and the rise of anti-euro parties in France, Germany, and Italy.

Eurosceptics are preparing to fight in presidential elections in the Czech Republic and in Finland later this month.

Hungary's enfant terrible, Viktor Orban, is likely to retain power in spring and the far-right Sweden Democrats party is set to do well in Swedish elections in September.

But the main anti-EU forces lost in French and German elections in 2017, leaving the Italian vote as the last big threat on the horizon.

For his part, Carlo Calenda, a prominent figure in Gentiloni's government, warned on Tuesday that the 5-Star Movement or the Berlusconi bloc could still do a lot of damage if they got into power.

Berlusconi has pledged to boost pensions and cut taxes despite Italy's sky-high debt.

Di Maio has pledged to create a universal citizens' income and to meet all of Italy's energy needs via renewable sources.

Doing damage

"The image that we will give is that we are no longer ready to face the challenge coming from the reality of our financial situation," Calenda told the Bloomberg news agency, referring to Berlusconi's programme.

"This will gives us less access to the markets and will cause a lot of entrepreneurs, foreign entrepreneurs that want to invest in Italy, to reconsider investments," he said.

He said Di Maio's ideas were "not feasible at all".

"I think that their proposal is mainly escape from reality and to escape from reality in the context of our financial situation that remains difficult is a potential disaster," Calenda said.

Italy to hold elections on 4 March

Elections could mean the end of centre-left rule in Italy, with Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party doing well in the polls.

EU approves rescue of Italian banks

The European Commission gave the green light to a €17-billion plan by the Italian government to save Banca Popolare di Vicenza and Veneto Banca.

Bulgaria to take first steps towards euro

Bulgaria joining the single currency "will not result in any additional risk for the euro system", its finance minister said. The country's lev currency has been pegged to the euro since 1997, making it already highly dependent on ECB policy.

German coalition deal aims for 'Macron-lite' EU renewal

Merkel and Schulz clear the first hurdle of coalition talks, but the SPD's full membership backing is still needed. The likely coalition parties express support for Macron's eurozone reform ideas, but remain cautious.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium lowers terror alert level
  2. France, Spain set to gain seats in post-Brexit EU parliament
  3. Orban family probed over 'fraudulent' EU projects
  4. Spanish judge rejects Puigdemont arrest warrant
  5. Austria plans to sue Commission over Hungary's nuclear plant
  6. Puigdemont proposed as sole candidate for Catalan leadership
  7. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  8. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. EU stands by Palestine on Jerusalem
  2. MEPs may bar killer robots and drones from EU research cash
  3. Europe's social democrats are having a hard time
  4. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  5. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  6. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on agenda This WEEK
  7. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  8. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap