Monday 17 December 2018

Italy will stay in euro, says finance minister

A waiter stands in front of a restaurant in Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters
A waiter stands in front of a restaurant in Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy. Photo: Tony Gentile/Reuters

Crispian Balmer

Italy's new coalition government has no intention of leaving the euro and plans to focus on cutting debt levels, Finance Minister Giovanni Tria said yesterday as he sought to reassure nervous financial markets.

Italian government bonds have come under concerted selling pressure on fears the administration will embark on a spending splurge Italy can ill-afford and markets are wary Eurosceptics within the coalition might try to push Italy out of the eurozone.

Mr Tria told the 'Corriere della Sera' the coalition wanted to boost growth through investment and structural reforms: "Our goal is (to lift) growth and employment. But we do not plan on reviving growth through deficit spending."

He added that he would present new economic forecasts and government goals in September.

"These will be fully coherent with the objective of continuing on the path of lowering the debt/GDP ratio," he said.

The government - comprising the anti-establishment Five-Star Movement and far-right League - initially named Paolo Savona, who had called the euro an "historic error". His appointment was rejected by President Sergio Mattarella.

Mr Tria, a little-known economics professor unaffiliated to any party, said the coalition was committed to staying in the euro.

"The position of the government is clear and unanimous. There is no question of leaving the euro," he said.

"The government is determined to prevent in any way the market conditions that would lead to an exit materialising.

"It's not just that we do not want to leave, we will act in such a way that the conditions do not get anywhere near to a position where they might challenge our presence in the euro."

Mr Tria said he had spoken to his German counterpart and was looking for "fruitful dialogue" with the European Union, adding Italian interests chimed with those of Europe.

Irish Independent

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