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Renzi says Italy 'ready to do its part' in EU

Reform package to institutions impressing allies, says premier

19 March, 14:06
Renzi says Italy 'ready to do its part' in EU (See related) (ANSA) - Rome, March 19 - Italy is "ready to do its part" within the European Union by offering reforms to national institutions and the Constitution, Premier Matteo Renzi said Wednesday. "We have offered a package of reforms to the Constitution and to our institutions that have impressed our European partners because this is a sign that Italy is ready to do its part," Renzi told the Lower House on the eve of a two-day summit of European Union leaders in Brussels.

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 unveiled last week.

That included plans to cut income taxes for low-income Italians by 10 billion euros, invest 1.74 billion euros in social housing programs, spend 3.5 billion euros on schools, and repay 68 billion euros in outstanding bills for government services by July.

At the same time, he has insisted that his program would not cause Italy to breach the 3%-deficit-to-threshold allowed by the EU.