Italy pledges reforms as Europe seeks to end debt crisis
In an effort to convince European leaders that his country is capable of meeting its budget goals, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reportedly vowed Wednesday to raise the equivalent of $8 billion annually from asset sales, increase Italy’s retirement age and relax labor laws.
“We are aware of the need to present a comprehensive plan of reforms,” Berlusconi said in the letter that he presented to European Union leaders meeting at a debt crisis summit in Brussels, according to Bloomberg News. “We are aware that our debt is too high and our growth too limited.”
He said the asset-sales plan would be completed by Nov. 30, according to Bloomberg. But the letter provided few new proposals and failed to present the thorough plan European leaders are seeking to help end the debt crisis that has embroiled the continent for almost two years, the news agency said.
Berlusconi vowed to hike the retirement age to 67 by 2026, from about 65 currently for men, and overhaul labor market laws making layoffs easier, the news agency reported.
According to Dow Jones, Berlusconi planned to present a detailed plan for boosting growth by Nov. 15, and his overall reform plan would be implemented within in the next eight months.
The letter was to be discussed by leaders of the 17-country Eurozone over dinner Wednesday evening, Dow Jones said.
European leaders generally struggled Wednesday to find an economic plan that would be in place by next week’s key Group of 20 meeting in Cannes, France, where countries including China and the United States had hoped to hear a report of major progress.
-- Ann M. Simmons in Los Angeles
Photo: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, left, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the start of the European debt crisis summit in Brussels on Wednesday. Credit: Oliver Hoslet / EPA