Italy won't compromise on Europe's future - minister

Italy won't compromise on Europe's future - minister

Italy believes the future of Europe's economy, the welfare of its citizens and market stability require nothing less than a truly ambitious rescue package, foreign minister Luigi Di Maio said on Monday.

"We cannot accept compromises on the future of the European economy, on the single market, on safeguarding the jobs and well-being of our citizens," Di Maio said at a press conference in Rome with German counterpart Heiko Mass.

"We very much appreciated Germany's stance in favour of an ambitious plan to revive the European economy. Italy wholeheartedly backs the rescue package proposed by the European Commission," Di Maio said.

Last month, European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen unveiled a 750 billion euro recovery fund to be made up of 500 billion euros in grants and 250 billion in loans.

When added to a proposed 1.1 trillion euro budget for 2021-27, the recovery fund would bring to 1.85 trillion euros the amount that the EU executive says will "kick-start" Europe's coronavirus-ravaged economy.

"This package aims not only to heal, even if only partially, the COVID-19 crisis, but also to make the single market more resilient," Di Maio said.

But "divergences" between European states remain evident, he noted.

"Unluckily, there are still clear divergences between European countries. In this regard we think that Italy and Germany should work side by side to bridge this gap and reach an ambitious agreement as soon as possible," Di Maio said.

Coronavirus-hit Italy, which before the pandemic already had the eurozone's highest public debt to GDP ratios after Greece, stands to receive over 170 billion euros from the Recovery Fund, government sources told Adnkronos.

While strongly supported by southern European countries including Italy and Spain, the proposed recovery fund faces opposition from 'frugal' northern European countries like The Netherlands, which oppose any mutualisation of debt, favouring low-interest loans instead.