Prime Minister of Italy says They Have Only One Week to Save the Eurozone
Italian prime minister Mario Monti has spoken of the potentially disastrous consequences of the collapse of the eurozone. Photograph: Edgard Garrido/Reuters
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Italy's prime minister, Mario Monti, has warned of the apocalyptic consequences of failure at next week's summit of EU leaders, outlining a potential death spiral whose consequences would become more political than economic.
The Italian leader is to hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the French president, François Hollande, and Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, in the hope that the single currency's big four countries can pave the way for a breakthrough at next week's meeting.
Speaking to the Guardian and a group of leading European newspapers, Monti said that, without a successful outcome at the summit, "there would be progressively greater speculative attacks on individual countries, with harassment of the weaker countries". The attacks would be focused not only on those who had failed to respect EU guidelines, but also on those like Italy, which he said had abided by the rules "but which carry with them from the past a high debt".
Monti warned: "A large part of Europe would find itself having to continue to put up with very high interest rates that would then impact on the states and also indirectly on firms. This is the direct opposite of what is needed for economic growth."
Outlining the result of a failure at the talks, Monti said that, faced with creeping economic paralysis, "the frustration of the public towards Europe would grow", creating a vicious circle. "To emerge in good shape from this crisis of the eurozone and the European economy, ever more integration is needed," said Monti. Yet, if the summit failed to resolve the problems quickly, "public opinion, but also that of the governments and parliament... will turn against that greater integration".
Monti said he could see the beginnings of the process "even in the Italian parliament, which has traditionally been pro-European and no longer is".
He made his remarks hours after his predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, acknowledged that his party had bled support because of its backing for the Monti government's unpopular budgetary measures and spoke openly for the first time of the electoral advantage it could derive from torpedoing Monti's non-party cabinet of technocrats.
Source: Guardian.co.uk | John Hooper in Rome
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