Giovedì, 20 Settembre 2018

Letta tells EU to change or 'implode'


(By Christopher Livesay)

Rome, May 21 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta said
Tuesday that the European Union risks imploding if it does not
do more to address people's problems in the midst of the
economic crisis.
"I have the impression that the EU cannot keep going as it
has up to today, with timidness or a lack of decisions," Letta
told the Senate one day before making his first appearance on
the European stage at an extraordinary EU summit.
"Either it accelerates or it risks imploding.
"As things are, I don't think it can hold up and the people
will be the ones who make it implode the next time they vote".
Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) failed to win a
working majority in February's general election after strong
showings by ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom
(PdL) party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S)
lead to a virtual three-way tie.
Both the centre-left PdL and the M5S blasted
European-imposed austerity policies during the election
Letta, who was sworn in at the helm of an unprecedented
PD-PdL coalition government last month, wants the EU to focus
more on promoting growth and has said he will present a plan to
help boost job creation at a summit of European leaders next
He added that the EU must back up its words on solving
youth unemployment with strong actions and move rapidly to
invest its energy into "policies for growth and jobs".
Solving the crisis of rising youth unemployment must be an
"absolute" priority, both for the economy and for the EU's
credibility, he added.
"The EU is in a crisis of legitimacy over the lack of
results (on previous promises to deal with joblessness among
European youth)", Letta said.
He said the EU's credibility is also on the line if it
fails to make immediate and decisive moves towards forging a
banking union.
"It is unacceptable that the banking union decided upon one
year ago today lacks any precise definition. Such behavior
diminishes the credibility of the EU itself, which makes
resounding statements but fails to make decisions a year on," he
A single eurozone regulator of banks is seen as a way of
staving off the banking difficulties that have affected several
countries including Cyprus, Iceland, Ireland and Spain, and to a
lesser degree Italy.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has said that
entrusting the ECB with supervision of European banks is the
"only pragmatic solution" to the problem of setting a
cornerstone of a future firewall against credit crunches and
ensuing monetary disarray.
Some countries including Germany have stalled efforts to
implement such banking supervision.
Letta assured the Senate that Italy will stand up for
itself when it comes to negotiations at the EU level.
"The Italian parliament counts in Europe and the decisions
it takes are binding," Letta said.
"We can tell our partners that our positions cannot change
because our country asks for that. Italy will go with its back
straight and negotiate in the name of our country".
Another EU summit focusing on promoting growth and tackling
unemployment will be held in June.
With that summit in mind, Letta made the case that creating
jobs and stimulating investment could be achieved if the
European Union granted governments more room to maneuver within
its budget rules.
Speaking to the House, Letta said that the EU at its June
summit "must recognize spaces (needed) to maneuver national
public finances in order to enable member States to invest
adequate resources into active labor policies, reducing taxes on
labor and creating jobs for young people".
Italy recently forecast its deficit-to-GDP ratio will be
2.9% this year, taking it under the 3% threshold permitted by
the EU.
Letta's government is hoping to convince the European
Commission to end the excessive-deficit procedure it has against
Italy this month or early in June.
Meanwhile it is battling to reduce climbing unemployment,
which is especially high among youth at over 38%, according to
national statistics agency Istat.
At the end of June, the labor ministry plans to unveil a
package to reduce unemployment among the country's
15-to-24-year-olds by 8%.
"European decisions will be the framework (for our
national job-creation package)," Letta said.
On Monday, Letta discussed issues of economic growth and
youth unemployment in a telephone conversation with United
States President Barack Obama.
"The president expressed his support for the commitment of
Premier Enrico Letta in the fight against youth unemployment and
looks forward to further discussions on economic growth at the
next G8 summit in June in Lough Erne (Northern Ireland)," said a
White House statement.

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