Juncker welcomes Italian OK to Turkey aid, says no stupid austerity

Flexibility rules exist, not invented by Italy says Padoan

(ANSA) - Strasbourg, February 3 - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday said Italy was willing to make its contribution to three billion euros in EU aid to Turkey in exchange for cooperation on the refugee crisis.
    "The three billion for Turkey must be made available," Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg. "We all have to respect our commitments. Even the Italian government has said it is willing (to contribute). This is positive and I welcome it". The Commission had criticised Italian Premier Matteo Renzi's executive for allegedly holding up the aid package.
    There has been tension between the Commission and the Renzi government in recent weeks over several issues.
    The Commission is set to say in the spring whether it has granted Italy's request for flexibility in the application of the EU's budget laws for spending related to asylum seekers. Juncker said Wednesday that the EU executive will not pursue "stupid austerity policies" when it assesses member States' budgets. "It's right for the Commission to examine the State budgets as stipulated by the treaties," Juncker said. "It will conduct its role without following stupid austerity policies. There is plenty of flexibility to permit balances that respect the rules". Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said Wednesday that Italy was only asking for European Union rules to be respected by requesting flexibility in the application of budget rules.
    "Italy is requesting a more flexible management of fiscal policy on the basis of rules that Europe set, not ones that we are inventing," Padoan said during a meeting with British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne at an Aspen forum.


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