• Germany's news in English
 

Germany calls on Italy's 'sense of responsibility'

Published: 03 Mar 2013 09:18 GMT+01:00

After meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday, Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed confidence in Italian politicians' "sense of responsibility," her spokesman said.

Echoing this, Germany's Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Philipp Rösler on Saturday urged Italians to stay the course laid out by the outgoing government under Mario Monti.

"Italy, as a major European economy, has a great responsibility. There is no alternative to the policy of structural reforms," he told German weekly Focus. "I'm confident that those responsible in Italy recognize the importance of (preserving) stability."

Italian-German relations took a nose-dive earlier in the week when Merkel's gaffe-prone challenger from the opposition centre-left, Peer Steinbrück, said he was “downright appalled that two clowns won” Italy's election.

Meanwhile, former comedian Beppe Grillo, whose anti-establishment Five Star Movement unexpectedly captured a quarter of the Italian vote, told the magazine he wants to renegotiate his crisis-hit country's debt.

Official figures this week showed Italy's economy shrank by 2.4 percent last year and public debt rose to 127 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 120.8 percent in 2011 - the highest level in the eurozone after Greece.

"We are being crushed - not by the euro but by our debt," Grillo told Focus. "When (public debt) interest payments reach €100 billion a year, we're dead. There are no alternatives" to debt renegotiation, he added.

Grillo's party has spooked Europe with its promise to hold a referendum on the euro and cancel Italy's debts, prompting European leaders to urge Italy to stick to its fiscal commitments and form a government as soon as possible.

The comedian-turned-populist firebrand said he gave his country's political system "only six months" before it collapsed and the state could no longer "pay pensions and public sector salaries."

If the debt obligations didn't change, Grillo said he would want his recession-struck country to leave the euro and return to the lira, the magazine said.

Klaus-Peter Willsch, a deputy from Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), echoed Grillo's sentiments on Friday and called for Italy to leave the euro if it could not stick to EU rules.

With Italy still scrambling to find a way out of the political impasse following last weekend's elections, Grillo could become kingmaker after his rogue party drew many austerity-weary Italians to its ranks.

He has refused to form a coalition with Pier Luigi Bersani, whose centre-left party came out on top in the elections, nor with ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservatives, until his demands for changes to the political system are met.

AFP/The Local/jlb

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

10:58 March 3, 2013 by smart2012
3 years of Verkel driving eu agenda and here we are. Well done Verkel
11:00 March 3, 2013 by blackboot11
How about Germany calling on Germany's 'sense of responsibilty' for a while here.... The rediculious new Berlin airport debacle, the 400 € mini job joke, the destruction of the Berlin wall for luxury condominiums and on and on.

Please practice what you preach, OK?
12:58 March 3, 2013 by jg.
The Italian election was conclusive in that a majority of Italians voted for something other than the status quo of punitive austerity measures. The responsible path for Italian politicians would probably be to look after the best interests of their people, instead of kowtowing to foreign bankers and politicians, who are prepared to sacrifice the lives and livelihoods of anyone for the sake of their dream of a federal EU.
13:30 March 3, 2013 by raandy
Italy is too big to fall. Bersani and Berlusconi are both experienced politicians and at the end of the day they know they will have to cooperate to form a government.

They campaigned on an anti austerity and as it stands now there will be no European Stability Mechanism as that requires a stable government. If they can not form a government and call for elections now 5 star will gain momentum and they surely will throw out austerity.

Napolitano term ends in April and those elected must find a successor if they can not agree then this will deepen the crisis.

This is really about Germanys insistance on austerity, Bersani and Berlusconi will have no choice but to agree to it, 5 star full of homemakers, students, unemployed will not.
16:35 March 3, 2013 by schneebeck
OK, OK, so no austerity.

Do they just sit back and wait for the Euro crisis to go away by itself? Could it work like that?

If you think austerity is a bad idea or contrary to popular will, what exactly is the plan then?
17:07 March 3, 2013 by Steve1949
@ schneebeck............There are other choices that could be made such as disbanding this whole mess (better know as the EU) or go back to each country having there own currency and lt the markets decide on the value of each currency. This way there is no need to keep throwing good money after bad bailing out all these countries. I think the only reason Germany hasn't left the EU is because they already have thrown too much money away and are hoping to keep this mess together at any cost to try to recover some of their losses.
00:36 March 4, 2013 by schneebeck
@#6

Yes, you could:

1) disband the EU

2) revert to former currencies

Both options, seem reasonable, I would favor either one myself. But these options are hardly on the table. If one waits for these options I think that would be an automatic default to the "no other action" option.

No austerity, AND "no other action" might lead to what kinds of consequences? None?

More debt. This is called "kicking the can down the road". We've been doing it for over a decade now. It is the "do nothing, no action" option. Has that led to this severe "Eurocrisis"? Wouldn't it have been better to endure the suffering when the problems were smaller? Won't avoiding austerity measures and "doing nothing else" lead to more severe consequences of the same sort? Making people suffer even more in the future? Or no?

An alternative option to austerity, ought not to just pass the suffering on in a more severe form to the future. So, what is a feasible, do-able, acceptable alternative option to austerity that will lead Europe away from the fiscal problems and suffering it is experiencing?

Or should we just do nothing and require that people don't yell and scream and criticize us like they are doing towards the "austerity, do something" people?
01:53 March 4, 2013 by Eric1
Italy and responsibility are two words that don't go together. Italy and fun but responsibility?
08:38 March 4, 2013 by IchBinKönig
What we need is to dump some more money into Italy... up the stakes a bit more.
20:26 March 4, 2013 by Englishted
They just don't like democracy ,oh correction they only like it if they win ,hence the reason there are no elections on the issues that affect us in the E.U. expansion ,the introduction of the €uro ,new treaties ,in fact on what subject have we ever been given a vote?

Democracy don't make me laugh.
Today's headlines
Strong economy shrinks debt as share of GDP
Workers in a Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg. Photo: DPA

Strong economy shrinks debt as share of GDP

Germany's total debt increased slightly in 2014, but because the economy grew, its proportion of overall output fell, the Bundesbank (central bank) said on Wednesday. READ  

Seven lives claimed by Storm Niklas
Photo: DPA

Seven lives claimed by Storm Niklas

Germany woke up on Wednesday morning to the chaos which hurricane-strength winds brought to the country for much of Tuesday, killing seven people and causing major damage to travel infrastructure. READ  

Kaiser to rule again from Berlin
The Berliner Stadtschloss (city palace) in 1904. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Kaiser to rule again from Berlin

In a shock decision, the German government announced on Wednesday that it had asked civil servants to re-draft the constitution to restore the monarchy. READ  

Post, Amazon face Easter strikes
Photo: DPA

Post, Amazon face Easter strikes

The trade union Verdi has announced strikes for Wednesday at the Deutsche Post (German Post) and Amazon, meaning that Easter cards and packages might not arrive on time. READ  

Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project
The burnt ruins of the art project. Photo: DPA

Arsonists hit pro-refugee art project

An art installation dedicated to refugees was burnt down in Berlin early on Tuesday, with police suspecting it to be an arson attack. READ  

Hurricane Niklas
Storm Niklas kills at least three, stops trains
This train in Lower Saxony had to stop after striking a fallen tree. Photo: DPA

Storm Niklas kills at least three, stops trains

Hurricane “Niklas” has reportedly claimed three victims, while trains have been cancelled across Germany as the storm rages. READ  

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams
Photo: DPA

Stuttgart worst city for traffic jams

GPS company TomTom released data on Tuesday showing which cities have the worst traffic problems. The conclusion: Stuttgart is Germany's worst city for commuters. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa cancels 60th jubilee celebration

Germany's national airline Lufthansa announced on Tuesday that it would cancel celebrations for the 60th anniversary of its founding in 1955. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

Doctors warn against snap crash reaction

The president of Germany's Council of Psychotherapists said on Tuesday that there was no reason why the country should loosen its rules on doctor-patient confidentiality in the wake of the Germanwings crash. READ  

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance
Chancellor Merkel speaking in Helsinki. Photo: DPA

Merkel urges Germans: Give Greece a chance

On a visit to Helsinki on Monday, Chancellor Angela Merkel showed a patient side to the German government as the Eurozone continues to wait for a new list of economic reforms from Greece. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in Germany
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
International
What's keeping UK expats from voting?
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
All you ever needed to know about Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,999
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd