Conte blasts opposition over ESM row, says its accusations are false

Premier says League raised no objections about reform

(ANSA) - Rome, December 2 - Premier Giuseppe Conte blasted the centre-right opposition as he reported to the Lower House on Monday about the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) after the reform of the eurozone's bailout fund caused a furore in Italy. "It has been said the the ESM (reform agreement) has already been signed, at night to boot," Conte said. "Even those who are in the opposition have the duty to be responsible...
    "The accusations made in recent days by several opposition figures about a lack of information or consultation over such a sensitive issue are completely false...
    "I seems to me to be completely superfluous to confirm something that seems totally evident to me and that is that neither I nor any member of my government has signed a still incomplete treaty". The reform, which is set to be signed off later this month, would make the ESM more akin to the IMF, with support for States in financial difficulty made conditional on debt restructuring.
    But it is unclear whether the restructuring demand would be automatic or not. Italy is considered by experts to be vulnerable to market turbulence due to its huge public debt of over 2,000 billion euros.
    The centre-right opposition said the ESM reform penalises Italy and is "not amendable" by parliament after Conte agreed to it.
    League leader Matteo Salvini has called on President Sergio Mattarella to intervene in this case.
    Conte, on the other hand, has threatened to sue Salvini and mocked him over his complaints about the ESM, pointing out that the League was in government in his first executive when the reform was agreed in June and in the run-up to it.
    "A false accusation of Constitutional high treason is different to the accusation of having made political mistakes or having passed bad reforms," Conte said on Monday.
    "It is an accusation that is not just limited to polluting the public debate and disorientating citizens, it is also an indication of the most serious form of recklessness as it undermines the credibility of the political institutions and the public's confidence in them in order to gain some ephemeral advantage".
    Conte said a report was presented at a cabinet meeting in February that referred to the ESM negotiations and stressed that "none of the ministers present, including those from the League, raised objections".
    He also said the ESM was a good thing for Italy.
    "The ESM is not directed against one country or constructed to benefit some countries to the detriment of others," he said.
    "It is insurance against the danger of contagion and financial panic that benefits everyone".