Saturday

23rd Sep 2017

Nervous Brussels urges Italy to stick to austerity

  • All eyes are on Rome where government negotiations are expected to be lengthy (Photo: Giampaolo Macorig)

The European Commission has urged any future government in Italy to keep on implementing deficit-cutting measures, despite the fact that over half the electorate voted for anti-austerity parties.

"Last Friday the Italians were speaking quite clearly about debt-reduction commitments as well as a series of other commitments. These Italian commitments remain in force and the commission expects compliance," commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly said on Tuesday (26 February).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  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.

His comments come after elections in Italy - the eurozone's third biggest economy - failed to result in a majority for the upper house of the country's parliament.

The centre-left coalition of Pier Luigi Bersani, who had pledged to continue Monti's work, won the lower house by a whisker.

The resulting stalemate has put former comedian Beppe Grillo, who ran on an anti-austerity ticket and has called for a referendum on euro membership, in kingmaker position. It has also rattled Brussels.

The commission's Bailly referred to Italy's European duty as a "major founding member of the EU." He said Rome sticking to its reform promises would underpin confidence in the euro currency.

But he admitted that Monti's reform path had yet to produce results.

It would be "an illusion" to think that 15 months of reforms - Monti took over in November 2011 - would would lead to "joy, happiness and jobs." Staying with austerity would eventually lower debt, which is a "brake" on growth, he added.

Italy's public debt is expected to hit 128 percent of national output this year.

There were similar messages elsewhere. Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said Italy's reforms are "crucial" for the entire eurozone, while Guido Westerwelle, the foreign minister of pro-austerity Germany, said Rome must "continue the solid policies of reform and consolidation."

Others worried about the political implications of the vote.

European Parliament President Martin Schulz noted that "what happens in Italy affects all of us."

He said that unpopular reforms are being associated with the EU capital.

"I take it very seriously that a lot of Italian people expressed a kind of protest against measures which are [seen] in Italy publicly as measures of the European Union. We should here in Brussels take this very, very seriously," he explained.

Meanwhile, the Italian post-election political riddle is unlikely to be solved soon.

While several politicians have indicated that new elections would not be the best path, government negotiations are expected to be torturous.

Italian president Giorgio Napolitano is set to officially start consultations with the various political parties on forming a government in about three week's time.

Italian President demands respect in Germany

Italian President Napolitano has, while on a trip to Germany, demanded respect for Italy and cancelled a meeting with the German opposition leader after he mocked election results.

Agenda

Italian mess dominates this WEEK

Post-election wrangling in Italy and its implications for the euro crisis will dominate events this week, alongside the Cyprus bailout, bankers' bonuses and Hezbollah.

Opinion

Why Europe should not worry about Italy

While seemingly a threat to EU stability and at the heart of possible contagion, Italy is historically used to navigating through uncertainty, short-lived governments and catastrophic economic forecasts.

Merkel shows softer side on Italian holiday

Germany's Angela Merkel - for many the incarnation of EU austerity and German rigour - has shown her softer side by visiting a waiter who lost his job.

Quiet showdown in Barcelona

Thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets, in protest against the Spanish government's efforts to prevent the independence referendum. Both sides know that violence would go against their cause.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  2. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  3. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  4. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  5. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  6. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea
  7. Tusk calls 'euro summit' in December
  8. Report: May to seek two-year EU transition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  2. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  3. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  4. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  5. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  6. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  8. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  9. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  10. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  11. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel
  12. Mission of China to the EUPresident Xi Urges Bigger Global Role for Emerging Economies