Thursday

28th May 2020

Berlusconi heads to G20 amid mutiny at home

  • 'We've arrived at the final act of Berlusconism' La Repubblica said (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

Silvio Berlusconi’s position as prime minister of Italy is increasingly uncertain as he travels to Cannes this morning to present the G20 summit with a package of anti-crisis measures, agreed to after a gruelling day of emergency meetings and a growing mutiny at home.

“We’ve arrived at the final act of Berlusconism,” reads today’s editorial in Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. Its headline: “The government hangs by a string.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Mr Berlusconi had wanted to issue a decree covering fresh austerity measures, thus bypassing the parliament, but was held back by Giorgio Napolitano, the country’s president, and his own finance minister, Giulio Tremonti.

“Not because of opposition to the instrument in principal, but because it is said that many measures had been included that have nothing to do with the economic crisis,” reports Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Instead, Mr Berlusconi was forced to agree to a “maxi-amendment”, to be attached to a “law for stablility” set to be approved by parliament next week.

It is then that Mr Berlusconi may face his biggest obstacle to date.

"We think that next week will be a week in parliament where we try to force the situation if Berlusconi does not resign before," Enrico Letta, deputy general secretary of the centre-left Democratic Party, the country’s biggest opposition party, told Reuters.

Mr Berlusconi’s grip on power seems to be slipping. His approval ratings touched a record low of 22 percent in a poll on Wednesday. His coalition ally, the hard-right Northern League, said it will “set off a revolution” if the government touches the retirement age. Six of his own deputies on Wednesday wrote a letter asking him to “act like a statesman” and “to promote a new government”.

Mr Napolitano, meanwhile, has been meeting with opposition leaders, "who have expressed their availability to take the necessary responsibility in the face of the growing economic crisis," according to a statement from the president.

The precise content of the anti-crisis package remains unknown. “We’re going ahead with the commitments [as set out] in the letter of intent presented to Europe,” Mr Tremonti is reported as saying while leaving the cabinet meeting late last night.

The letter, presented at the EU summit last week after European leaders had pressed Mr Berlusconi to come up with concrete measures to tackle the country’s massive debt, listed a number of measures, including raising the retirement age to 67 and making it easier for companies to fire employees.

An official government communique, however, distributed just after midnight, stressed: “Any texts that might be circulating do not correspond with what has been examined and approved in the council of ministers”.

Italy: Euro crisis meeting could strain coalition

Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi's coalition government is to face a major test at 6pm local time on Monday, when ministers meet to push through austerity measures under pressure from fellow EU leaders.

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: Life was cheaper before the euro

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

Jourova: Ease emergency powers - especially Hungary

The EU commission vice-president said that as member states relax lockdwon measures, it is time to roll back the state of emergencies that affect democracy and fundamental rights. Hungary said it might end extra powers in June.

News in Brief

  1. EU Commission updates working programme for 2020
  2. EU Commission proposes €750bn recovery fund
  3. EU and Japan in favour of WHO reform
  4. Former top diplomat Mogherini takes over EU college
  5. Denmark partly reopens borders to love
  6. France unveils €8bn 'electric' rescue for car industry
  7. Frontex set for Serbia and Montenegro launches
  8. US military: Russia sent jets to Libya to help mercenaries

Five new post-Brexit MEPs to watch

Five MEPs to keep an eye on from the 27 new members who are joining the European Parliament this week, following the UK's departure from the EU.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. Mix of loans and grants in Commission €750bn package
  2. EU recovery agreement deal may need 'personal' summit
  3. Little love, as Berlin bids 'auf Wiedersehen' to Trumpism
  4. Future of Europe Conference: Council urged to move now
  5. Lobbyist register to be tightened after Monsanto case
  6. Hawks to doves? Germany's new generation of economists
  7. Is Russia manipulating food supplies during pandemic?
  8. How Kaczyński ruined Poland, judges tell MEPs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us