Expect Italy’s New anti-Establishment Government to ‘Dump’ Euro
Thursday, just a few minutes after the announcement on of a deal on a new anti-establishment government in Italy, 1 of its leaders attacked a top Eurozone official for comments he deemed racist in a fresh sign of cracked relations with Brussels.
In a conference Thursday, the President of the EC, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that Italians had to work more and fight corruption to improve the situation in the country’s impoverished South.
Shortly after the new government backed by the anti-establishment 5-Star and the far-right League was announced , League leader Matteo Salvini called Mr. Juncker’s remarks “shameful and racist.”
“The new government will make sure that the rights and the dignity of 60-M Italians will be respected,” Mr. Salvini said in a statement, adding that “Italians expect from Europe cooperation and not insults.”
A spokeswoman for Mr. Juncker said later that the comments attributed to him were taken “out of context.”
“President Juncker was referring to the structural problems of the region of South Italy where the EU has done a lot to mobilize EU funding to spur growth and jobs. The absorption of EU funds could be improved so that people can feel the results on the ground more swiftly,” the spokeswoman said.
The EC has proposed this week to increase EU funding for Italy’s poorest regions in the next EU long-term budget for Y’s 2021-2027.
Mr. Juncker’s comments on Italy’s southern regions were made in a closed-door meeting, after a public session in which he praised the “genius” of the Italians.
The row comes just 2 days after the German Commissioner for the EU budget, Guenther Oettinger, was forced to apologize after comments suggesting Italian voters would be punished by markets for voting for anti-Euro populists caused an uproar in the country.
Among members of the new government, which is due to be sworn in Friday, is economist Paolo Savona, who devised a plan for Italy’s departure from the Eurozone.
Mr. Savona denied that the new government would seek to dump the single currency. He was moved to the role of Minister for Relations with the EU, after Italian President Sergio Mattarella vetoed his appointment as Italy’s Finance Minister.