26th Jul 2021

Berlusconi stirs trouble in Italy, again

  • Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted for tax fraud and abuse of power (Photo: Council)

Silvio Berlusconi's party is boycotting the ruling coalition over his legal problems at a time when Italy is struggling to restore market confidence.

The Italian parliament suspended its activities on Wednesday (10 July) because of a protest by the People of Freedom Party (PDL) over a decision by the country's supreme court to fast-track Berlusconi's case, which could ban him from ever holding public office again.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

PDL is one of the largest parties in the coalition government run by Social-Democrat Prime Mnister Enrico Letta.

Faced with PDL's political pressure, the supreme court had to issue a statement defending its decision to hear Berlusconi's appeal on 30 July against a tax fraud conviction, instead of late 2013 as was initially planned.

The court said it was forced to call a special meeting in July because Berlusconi's case would otherwise expire on 1 August as it would reach the statute of limitations. Even if his conviction is upheld, he is unlikely to go to jail, as people over 75 years of age are rarely imprisoned in Italy. But he may have to give up his parliament seat and party membership.

Berlusconi's legal problems - ranging from tax evasion to abuse of office and paying for sex with an underage dancer - also caused friction in the previous government coalition, which ultimately collapsed when he withdrew his party's support.

The timing could not be worse, as ratings agency Standard&Poor's on Tuesday downgraded Italy to just two notches above "junk" - a status where countries usually have to ask for a bailout.

Downgrades matter a lot to Italy, which already has a huge foreign debt burden. The lower the rating, the higher the interest rates investors will ask when buying Italian bonds.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund warned Italy of "policy slippages" that could worsen the €2 trillion debt load and asked the European Central Bank to do more to help Italy combat its recession.

Italian court upholds Berlusconi jail sentence

An Italian court Thursday upheld former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's prison sentence in a move that could lead to political instability in the eurozone's third largest economy.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us