Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Merkel sidesteps question on Berlusconi return

English
© ANSA

(ANSA) - Rome, September 17 - German Chancellor Angela
Merkel on Monday sidestepped a question on the possible return
of former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi to front-line
politics.
Berlusconi, who was forced to step down in November when
Italy looked in danger of being overwhelmed by the eurozone
crisis, ended a long silence at the weekend with some
controversial comments, including criticism of the EU's Fiscal
Compact.
The 75-year-old media magnate has said he has not yet
decided whether he will run for a fourth term as Italian premier
at elections next year.
He had said he would not stand again after he resigned as
premier in November to make way for Mario Monti's emergency
technocrat administration but leading members of his People of
Freedom (PdL) party have said he will be their candidate next
spring.
"I'm a democratic politician," Merkel told a news
conference when asked if she was worried about the prospect of
Berlusconi's coming back.
"And I concentrate on Germany and on concrete facts".
At the weekend, Berlusconi described the Fiscal Compact for
tighter budget discipline and union that 25 of the EU's 27
member States signed earlier this year as "a package of
regulations that impede growth".
The comments may have raised some eyebrows as the compact
is seen as key part of the EU's measures to solve the eurozone
crisis.
By accepting the pact, Italy and the 24 other signatories
agreed to insert a balanced-budget rule into their own national
constitutions, committing themselves to "semi-automatic"
sanctions to be triggered if the measures are violated.
Furthermore, counties with a public debt of over 60% of
gross domestic product must bring it under that threshold within
20 years.
Berlusconi also said that the EU's so-called anti-spread
shield, which will make it possible for the European Central
Bank to buy the bonds of countries facing soaring borrowing
costs in order to ease the crisis, is unlikely to work.
He added that the PdL will abolish IMU, a property tax
Monti's government introduced last year as part of an austerity
package to restore health to the country's public finances.
Berlusconi's 2008-2011 government abolished a similar tax.
Michele Ventura of the centre-left Democratic Party, which
will run against the PdL next year, said the IMU pledge marked a
return of "false promises and real nightmares".
The ex-premier also expressed admiration for Florence's
37-year-old Matteo Renzi, who has been calling for Italy's
political class to be rejuvenated and is set to run in the
centre-left's leadership primaries.
Renzi replied by saying Berlusconi was the first politician
he would send to the scrapheap if the centre-left won next
year's elections under him.

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