I.Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte does not want to be satisfied with the results so far of the European conferences on additional sources of finance for the member states. Conte further threatens not to sign a common document unless there is talk of introducing common Eurobonds. “I am not signing until there is a bunch of adequate instruments,” said Conte. The introduction of Eurobonds was sufficient for him, said the Prime Minister at a press conference at which the extension of the curfew for Italy until May 3 was announced.

Tobias Piller

Business correspondent for Italy and Greece based in Rome.

After the second evening video conference of the European finance ministers last Thursday in Brussels, there was the impression that, in principle, a solution had been found to the satisfaction of all EU member states: there was no decision taken by France, Italy and other countries as the first instrument called Eurobonds, with which common debts of the European Union are to be raised. But at the same time, the new European Short-time Workers Fund, a guarantee fund of the European Investment Bank and easier access to funds from the European State Rescue Fund (ESM) have eased large sums from various sources.

Conte, on the other hand, said that the results of the finance ministers’ negotiations were “only a first step towards a European agreement, which Italy regards as inadequate”. Italy must continue to fight “for a fund that represents a European community of efforts”. Conte cited a volume of 1.5 trillion euros as the order of magnitude. That would correspond to about 44 percent of the German gross domestic product of 2019 (about 3.400 trillion euros) or 11 percent of the gross domestic product of the European Union with now 27 members (about 14 trillion euros).

Specter ESM

Conte was critical of the offer, without being able to use the ESM’s state rescue fund without restrictive conditions. A loan of 2 percent of the gross domestic product is offered. That would be around 36 billion euros for Italy. The Italian government not only considers this amount to be insufficient. Above all, the term ESM in Italy is poisoned by claims by the populist right-wing parties that the ESM destroyed Greece with its conditions and the visits by the troika. Conte wants to allow similar things for Italy, say opposition leader Matteo Salvini and the party leader of the right-wing national “brothers of Italy”, Giorgia Meloni.


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