'The EU and Italy must take growth seriously'

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Italy's finance minister, Pier Carlo Padoan. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
16:47 CEST+02:00
The EU and Italy must take growth seriously in order to speed up economic recovery in Europe, Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said on Tuesday, ahead of Italy taking over the EU presidency next month.

Speaking in Rome, Padoan said “Europe must take the question of growth seriously” if EU countries are to exit the financial crisis as soon as possible.

“Europe has rolled out a wide-ranging response, to manage the crisis, but it lacks growth,” he said, outlining the Italian government’s three priorities for its presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The “three great chapters” of Italy’s six-month presidency will be Europe’s internal market, tied to the EU’s “Europe 2020” growth strategy, structural reforms and financing growth.

These three priorities, “which I believe should be the European agenda for growth, is the agenda for growth in Italy,” Padoan said.

Italy will take over the EU presidency on July 1st and spend the subsequent six months organizing meetings and setting the EU’s political agenda.

While recognizing the limitations of a six-month term, Padoan said Italy would use its presidency to “table a debate that I hope will be more serious, more frank”.

The Italian government won favour in Europe last month after winning the second-highest number of seats in the European Parliament, just behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party.

But despite the confidence boost in the cabinet of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Italy is still struggling to achieve economic growth.

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Figures released in May showed the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.1 percent in the first quarter of 2014, while during the same period unemployment reached 13.6 percent.

READ MORE: Italy's jobless rate hits 13.6 percent in Q1

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