Italy’s finance minister has warned that time is running out for Europe’s tottering economies to avoid stagnation.
Speaking on the eve of a national strike in Italy and after figures showed the country’s industrial production fell yet again in October, he said: “There isn’t much time. Europe is at a fork in the road. One path leads to stagnation; the other to growth that we sorely need.”
In a frank interview with the Guardian and other European news organisations, Pier Carlo Padoan attacked the European Investment Bank (EIB) for worrying more about its credit rating than about promoting growth and revealed he had been discussing with Brussels new rules to encourage government spending that underpinned structural reform.
On Thursday in Italy there were violent clashes as millions of workers joined the nationwide stoppage in protest at the government’s employment law reforms.
Padoan’s message for them was that there would be no U-turns. Earlier this month, parliament approved a bill giving Matteo Renzi’s government a free hand to introduce by decree greater flexibility into the labour market.
But until now it has been unclear whether Italy’s left-right coalition, under pressure from the left wing of Renzi’s Democratic party, would use its powers to the full. Padoan was unequivocal, saying: “The decrees are already prepared and they are such as to render extremely clear the direction: not to water down. No reform is going to be watered down.”
via The Guardian