News / Europe

Italy Approves Austerity Measures

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti briefs the media in Rome, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti briefs the media in Rome, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011.

Italy's new prime minister said his government has approved a package of emergency budget measures worth more than $40 billion (30 billion euros) that will help pull Italy back from the brink of bankruptcy.

Mario Monti said Sunday the measures include immediate budget cuts as well as significant steps to fight tax evasion.  To do his part to cut the spending, Mr. Monti said he will forego his salary as prime minister.

The measures will be presented to the parliament, which must approve them.

Mr. Monti spent the weekend briefing political parties, unions, business groups, consumer lobbies and others.

Greece, Ireland and Portugal have already been forced to secure international bailouts over the last year and a half.  The chief fear now for European leaders is that Italy, with the continent's third biggest economy, may also need a bailout to avoid defaulting on its debts - a crisis that would threaten the continent's monetary union and could lead to a renewed worldwide recession.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are to meet in Paris on Monday to announce a joint German-French plan to resolve the crisis, ahead of an European Union summit next Friday in Brussels.

All 27 EU nations would have to approve changes to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty that created the EU, but that broad approval may not be necessary if spending controls apply only to the 17 nations that use the euro as their currency.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will urge European leaders to take action on the debt crisis when he travels to Europe this week. In Frankfurt Tuesday, Geithner will meet with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann.

Later in his three-day trip he will meet with Mr. Monti, President Sarkozy and Spanish Prime Minister-elect Mariano Rajoy.

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