Friday

26th Apr 2019

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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.

Italians vote in election dominated by migration and EU

Sunday's election outcome, under a new system, remains uncertain and is likely to result in uneasy coalitions between parties with conflicting views on how to deal with migrants and play a senior role in Europe.

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.

EU: 'Keep Calm', as Italy struggles to form government

Both the leaders of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League party claim the position of Italian prime minister, amid renewed eurosceptics remarks while Europe is waiting for a stable government.

News in Brief

  1. EU: Russian citizenship plan 'attacks' Ukraine sovereignty
  2. Deutsche Bank hands over Trump loan documents
  3. UN: Europe is badly prepared for new refugee crisis
  4. Macron to set out 'Yellow vest' counter measures
  5. Italy requests EU action plan for new Libya migrant wave
  6. Far-right party leaders meet in Prague
  7. Priest shames politicians at reporter's funeral in Belfast
  8. Putin offers Russian citizenship to Ukraine regions

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'
  2. Far-right Facebook networks removed before Spain election
  3. EU and Japan in delicate trade talks
  4. Closer EU-Caribbean ties mean greater prosperity for all
  5. Details of EU Brexit talks with Blair and Soros kept secret
  6. Weber vows to block Nord Stream 2 amid 'sue' threat
  7. 'Next Juncker' must fix EU's corporate power problem
  8. EU want Facebook pan-EU advert fix for May elections

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us