SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

EU austerity is putting brakes on Italy’s economy: Renzi

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi insisted on Friday that the EU's budget rules should be interpreted flexibly and that austerity should not be seen purely as an end in itself.

EU austerity is putting brakes on Italy's economy: Renzi
Photo: John McDougall/AFP

Speaking at a joint news conference in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Renzi said: “I am of the belief that austerity doesn't work on its own and can actually lead to the collapse of governments.”

“We are not demanding a change in the rules for Italy. We are demanding that the rules be applied,” Renzi said.

“Flexibility was a promise” made by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, the Italian government chief said.

“And I don't think he has changed his mind.”

Renzi argues that budgetary austerity in Europe is putting the brakes on economic growth in his country and has clashed with Juncker on the matter.

“I don't know whether we share the same opinion on this,” Renzi continued, in comments directed at Merkel.

“But we say these things with a smile and we share the same ideals” such as fighting unemployment as a way of stemming a rise in populism.

Merkel, for her part, praised the economic reforms Renzi has implemented so far – such as those on the labour market – describing them as an “important contribution for Italy and for Europe.”

Regarding budgetary discipline, Merkel said that “there can always be different interpretations,” and said it was ultimately up to Brussels to decide whether Italy was adhering to its commitments laid down by EU treaties.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Italy’s Meloni in Libya to discuss energy, migration

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni arrived Saturday in the Libyan capital Tripoli for talks on energy as well as the thorny issue of migration, Libyan state media said.

Italy's Meloni in Libya to discuss energy, migration

Meloni’s trip — her second to a North African country this week — is the first by a European leader to war-battered Libya since her predecessor Mario Draghi’s visit in April 2021.

State television said the Italian premier was received by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, who heads the Tripoli-based, UN brokered Government of National Unity which is contested by a rival administration in the east.

Libya and its former colonial power Italy are key trade partners, particularly in energy, where Italian giant Eni plays a major role in tapping into Africa’s largest known oil reserves.

Meloni was accompanied by Eni chief Claudio Descalzi, who is expected to sign a deal with Libya’s National Oil Company to develop two Libyan offshore gas fields.

Eni will invest $8 million in the two fields, NOC chief Farhat Bengdara said in televised remarks this week, adding they are expected to produce 850 million cubic metres of gas.

Meloni visited Algeria on Monday seeking supply deals from Africa’s top gas exporter to help reduce reliance on Russia after it invaded Ukraine last year.

During her trip to Libya, she is also expected to discuss the issue of migration amid rising numbers of irregular migrants from Libya to Italy.

Libya has been wracked by years of conflict and division since a NATO-backed revolt toppled dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

The country is a conduit for thousands of people each year fleeing conflict and poverty across Africa, seeking refuge across the Mediterranean in Europe.

Meloni’s far-right government took office in October, vowing to stop migrant landings in Italy, which reached more than 105,000 in 2022.

The central Mediterranean route is considered the world’s most treacherous, according to the International Organization for Migration, which estimated that 1,377 migrants had disappeared on that route last year.

SHOW COMMENTS