Italy to respect 'outdated' budget rules, says Renzi
With EU looking on, premier signals deficit forecast may rise19 March, 20:01
Among the most urgent reforms are those to Italy's labour market, to deal with what Renzi called an "atrocious" level of youth unemployment that exceeds 40%.
These reforms are not an option, "this is not a debate over whether we can deal with it or not," added Renzi, who has suggested it is time to shift focus away from concerns about reducing debt to instead consider policies aimed at encouraging growth and recovery.
"This pushes parliament" to deal with labour market issues as well as numerous other economic priorities, and may include innovative approaches, said Renzi.
Spending Review Commissioner Carlo Cottarelli is devising a list to cut as much as five billion euros in the last eight months of 2014 for lower-priority areas, to free money for higher priorities, Renzi noted.
Renzi admitted that will demand hard choices in terms to where to cut, for which he will take responsibility.
Like a family budget, "if there is not enough money, it's Mom and Dad who decide what to cut and what is not (cut)," he said. He also reminded the House of his dramatic plan for tax cuts and targeted social investments, which he vowed Wednesday to implement "before July," which marks the start of Italy's six-month EU presidency. Known as a charismatic fast-talker, Renzi went on to say that Italy could become a European leader over the next two decades if it works hard enough. "We are going in Europe, conscious of the fact that we have countless limits and difficulties - but, if Italy works hard enough, it can aim to be a leader within the European Union for the next 20 years and not for six months," the premier said. But his tone was at times tough on the EU, as it has often been in his nascent premiership. He told the House that Italy gives more to the EU than it receives, and that one of the causes of Italy's worsening debt-to-GDP ratio was its big contribution to the EU's euro bailout fund. Italy's debt-to-GDP ratio of 133% is the second-biggest in the eurozone after Greece's.
In recent weeks Renzi has received praise from European and EU leaders for his planned economic reforms, but has been quick to respond that such measures were necessary not to appease Europe, but to be able to "look our children in the eye".