21st Mar 2018

Italian euro scepticism taking root

  • In June 2005, Italy became the first country to face disciplinary action under the EU's adjusted stability pact (Photo: EUobserver)

One in five Italian private sector employees (21%) think scrapping the euro would be the best solution to Italy's economic problems, according to a fresh poll.

The Ipsos/Cise survey published by the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore was conducted among private sector staff who split their vote almost equally between centre-right and centre-left in Italy's 2001 election.

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Ahead of Italian spring elections, due 9 April, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s anti-euro rhetoric seems to be working in the battle against his main rival, former European Commission president Romano Prodi, who led Italy into the euro, the Financial Times suggested.

In June 2005, Italy became the first country to face disciplinary action under the EU's adjusted stability pact because of a ballooning budget deficit. At the same time the Italian Northern League party launched a campaign to revive Italy's old currency, the lira.

The party, which holds ministerial posts in Silvio Berlusoni's government, called for a revival of the lira as a "parallel currency" to the euro, which would remain the currency of the state budget, tourism and foreign trade.

The Italian opinion poll comes after the euro recently took a knock on fiscal rather than political grounds.

Frits Bolkestein, who served in the previous Prodi commission as internal market commissioner from 1999 to 2004, last week predicted that the common currency would face a huge test in around 10 years, when a pensions boom is likely to hit Europe.

The ageing of Europe's population will hit the continent "ruthlessly," the outspoken Dutch politician stated, pointing out euro zone states like Italy are unprepared for the expected jump in pension claims.

These states "will be forced by political pressure to borrow more and increase their budget deficit, with consequences for interest rates and inflation," he indicated.

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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.

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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.

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'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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