Martedì, 23 Ottobre 2018
BRUSSELS

Monti asks EU leaders to reflect on 'Italian case'

English
© ANSA

By Denis Greenan.
Brussels, March 14 - Outgoing Premier Mario Monti
said that he would invite European leaders to reflect on Italy
and its post-electoral impasse during summit meetings in
Brussels Thursday and Friday.
"I will ask them to reflect both on the positives and
negatives because the Italian case itself calls for reflection
in general," Monti said during his last appearance at an EU
summit as Italian premier.
Following the country's February 24-25 general election
Monti warned that there is a danger of populism in Italy that
could derail the EU integration course.
Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left alliance came first in the
elections, but failed to win a working majority in the Senate
because of votes pulled by three-time premier Silvio
Berlusconi's centre right and the anti-establishment 5-Star
Movement (M5S) of comedian Beppe Grillo.
Both Berlusconi and Grillo were accused of using populist
rhetoric in the election campaign.
Grillo, whose anti-establishment M5S rocked the political
establishment with a stunning show in the elections, has
proposed holding a referendum on whether Italy should stay in
the eurozone.
The political stalemate and anti-euro sentiment has revived
fears that Italy might need a Greece-style bailout and could
rekindle the eurozone crisis that was at its height when Monti
replaced Berlusconi in November 2011 with the spread between
Italian and German bond yields at unsustainable levels.
But ex-Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker said at the summit
Thursday that he did not "think that Italy will need a bailout
plan any time soon".
"Greece was a unique case," said Juncker, who is premier of
Luxembourg and recently stood down as head of the Eurogroup -
the eurozone's finance ministers - in favour of Dutch Finance
Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
Bersani, meanwhile, blasted Grillo's claim Wednesday in an
interview with German daily Handeslblatt, that Italy was
"already out of the euro".
Such statements, the PD leader said, could produce
"disasters of cosmic proportions".
Earlier this month Istat, Italy's national statistics
agency, said the recession is biting so hard that the nation's
real gross domestic product (GDP) dropped below its 2001 level
last year.
It added that the nation's debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 127%
in 2012 and the tax burden rose to a record 44%.
The country's massive national debt of around two trillion
euros is the main reason it was exposed to the eurozone debt
crisis.
Italy's already high tax burden increased with hikes
introduced by Monti's emergency government.
These tax increase were part of efforts to restore order to
Italy's public finances with the aim of balancing the budget in
structural terms this year.
But Monti's austerity measures also had the effect of
deepening the recession Italy slipped into in the second half of
2011.
The austerity, which pitched ever more Italians into
economic hardship, was seen as one of the reasons Monti
performed badly in the general election, coming in a distant
fourth in both houses.
It also boosted Grillo and Berlusconi's votes, pundits
said.

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