Italy to EU af­ter Brexit: change or risk col­lapse

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

ROME—Ital­ian min­is­ters warned Satur­day that the Euro­pean Union must change di­rec­tion or risk col­lapse af­ter Bri­tain’s vote to leave the bloc.

“The un­think­able is hap­pen­ing,” Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pier Carlo Padoan said. “A dou­ble re­ac­tion to Brexit is under way, one fi­nan­cial, one po­lit­i­cal. The fi­nan­cial one, at least un­til now, is lim­ited. I am more wor­ried about the po­lit­i­cal one.

“There is a cock­tail of fac­tors that can lead to var­i­ous out­comes, in­clud­ing a fur­ther push to­wards dis­in­te­gra­tion.”

Speak­ing to Cor­riere della Sera, Padoan also said EU lead­ers had to un­der­stand there could be no more “busi­ness as usual” on the key is­sues of jobs, growth and im­mi­gra­tion.

For­eign Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni mean­while warned it would be naive to un­der­es­ti­mate the sig­nif­i­cance of Bri­tain leav­ing or the risk of a surge in anti-EU sen­ti­ment across the con­ti­nent.

“The UK was not only one amongst 28 (mem­ber states). It had a great weight be­cause of its fi­nan­cial mar­kets and its in­ter­na­tional in­flu­ence,” Gen­tiloni said in an in­ter­view with daily Il Mes­sag­gero.

“The risk (of po­lit­i­cal con­ta­gion) is such that we need to send a strong and clear mes­sage (that we are) re­vamp­ing the Euro­pean project.”

Padoan said Europe had to face up to ci­ti­zens’ wor­ries over im­mi­gra­tion, un­em­ploy­ment and in­creas­ing in­equal­ity — which meant chang­ing the ‘aus­ter­ity’ bud­get rules Rome blames for ex­ac­er­bat­ing the cur­rent crises.

“In­equal­ity is grow­ing in Europe be­cause growth is weak,” the min­is­ter said. “Italy re­spects the (deficit) rules but that does not mean we like them.”

Padoan added: “In the man­age­ment of Europe, Ecofin in­cluded, the pre­vail­ing at­ti­tude is al­most ‘busi­ness as usual’.

“But the sit­u­a­tion we are in now is ex­cep­tional. We have to change our ma­jor pri­or­i­ties and we will see if (next week’s) Euro­pean Coun­cil sends a far-reach­ing sig­nal in that sense, as it should do.

“We have had proposals on the ta­ble for months that say em­ploy­ment, growth, well-be­ing and equal­ity have to be the pri­or­i­ties.

“Europe can­not only take care of the banks. We are sta­bil­is­ing them and will con­tinue to do so, but we also have to look af­ter our ci­ti­zens.”

Gen­tiloni was meet­ing Satur­day with his coun­ter­parts from Bel­gium, France, Ger­many, Lux­em­bourg and the Nether­lands — fel­low EU found­ing mem­bers — for talks on the im­pli­ca­tions of the Brexit vote.—AFP

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