Italy to have more leeway in public spending

The European Commission said on Wednesday it was ready to accept an Italian request to modify the way public deficits are calculated, which would give Rome more leeway in spending while still respecting EU demands to keep the deficit below 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Italy to have more leeway in public spending
The EC said it was ready to accept Italy's request to modify the way public deficits are calculated. Photo: Daniel Roland/AFP

Italy's government said this was "an important result" since it would give greater flexibility for investments to boost growth in the 2014 budget.

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso told the European Parliament meeting in Strasbourg that exceptions were possible "on a case by case basis" to the current method for calculating deficits.

This would be allowed for national spending on, for example, projects co-financed by the European Union and aimed at structural reforms or trans-European transport networks, Barroso said.

"We've done it!" Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta wrote on Twitter after Barroso's comments.

The Commission forecasts Italy's deficit will reach 2.9 percent this year but then go down to 2.5 percent in 2014.

Italy has just been taken out of an excessive deficit procedure by the Commission, which could have led to sanctions.

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Wellbeing is up in Italy despite economic troubles, study finds

Italians are feeling better overall despite struggles with job insecurity and poor work-life balance, according to new figures.

Wellbeing is up in Italy despite economic troubles, study finds
Biking around Italy's Lake Garda. Photo: Depositphotos

Italians are famed for having a supposedly relaxed and healthy lifestyle. And new figures released by national statistics bureau Istat on Thursday show that Italians' wellbeing is actually on the increase.

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“Over the last year the indicators report an improvement in wellbeing,” the national statistics agency said in its latest annual BES report.

The report aims to look beyond the usual GDP-based economic picture of how Italy is progressing, by considering economic, social and environmental phenomena.

“Over 50 percent of the 110 comparable indicators have registered an improvement,” ISTAT said.

Fruit for sale at a market in Rome. Photo: AFP

Two in five Italians reported “high levels of satisfaction” with their lives, and overall subjective perceptions of wellbeing had increased by 1.8 percent overall since last year, Istat found.

Italians are also feeling more positive, the study found, with the number of people describing themselves as “optimistic” increasing by 1.8 percent and the number of self.confessed pessimists dropping by two percent.

Istat said the biggest increases in wellbeing were registered in parts of northern Italy, while the lowest scores were found in the centre-south.


In the south, reported levels of satisfaction with life were on average around 12 percent lower compared to the North.

The study noted that the wellbeing index was pushed down by economic factors in many areas, particularly by unemployment, job insecurity, and issues with work-life balance.