ROME, January 6 (Itar-Tass) – Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti starts a tour of European countries Friday. A part of it, he is expected to hold talks with President Nicolas Sarkozy of France in Paris and German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
The governmental press service said Thursday Monti’s talks with his counterparts will focus on the agenda of the European Group and the EU summit scheduled for January 30.
The communique says the major issues the discussions will center on are the possible steps to help avert a deepening of the European currency crisis, the measures towards ensuring economic development, bilateral problems, and certain aspects of the international situation.
Apart from President Sarkozy, Monti is due to have meetings with a number of French ministers in Paris. He will be accompanied on his trip by the Minister of Economic Development, Transport and Infrastructures, Carrado Passera.
Monti’s personal trip to Paris and Berlin marks a change of plans. Initially, Sarkozy and Merkel were expected to come to Rome themselves.
The backlog of economic problems bedeviling Italy, which has a huge foreign debt, has been widely viewed of late as a tangible threat that might trigger a collapse of the entire euro area, but the most recent developments on the world markets show that the problems of the euro have stretched far outside the borders of any single country and their root-cause lies in the absence of a coordinated strategy within the EU.
Monti, a former European commissioner, hopes to take an importance position in working out that strategy, Italian news analysts believe.
In the first phase of the national efforts to enforce a budget economy of about 20 billion euros – achieved as a result largely through an increase of taxes – the Monti government went over to the second phase that envisions the steps towards ensuring economic growth, currently stagnant.
The Prime Minister is expected to submit his proposals on this to the cabinet by January 23.
In spite of the drastic measures taken already, the situation on the Milan Exchange remains highly unstable, as the days when quotes show insignificant growth give way to new big slides.
Along with this, the spread between the more reliable German government bonds and the Italian securities keeps at the levels exceeding 500 points and the yield of ten-year state bonds does not get lower than the 7% psychological mark.
On this background, a social conflict is apparently broadening inside the country, as the trade units are mounting protests against a number of pivotal steps taken by the government, including a reform of the pensions system.