Italian, Spanish PM meet on eurozone stability

08:20, June 11, 2010      

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Spanish Premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero compared notes here Thursday on eurozone stability and a coordinated strategy to shield the common currency against global speculation.

  Berlusconi and Zapatero compared the state of their countries, both severely hit by the global downturn, and the measures respectively taken by their two governments in revamping the economy, according to a statement by Palace Chigi government headquarters.

The meeting between the two leaders was significant in paving the way for a common European economic policy. Zapatero's visit to Rome was in fact exceptional, considering it was not a traditional, institutional bilateral summit between Spain and Italy.

The urgency of the meeting, however, stems from the crisis that still looms over Europe and for which the European Union (EU) is outlining a coordinated response to present at the upcoming Group of Eight (G8) and Group of 20 (G20) summits in Canada.

“Our common goal is to define a new, long-term European governance that boosts the eurozone stability and its economic recovery,” Berlusconi stated at the final joint press conference.

According to Zapatero, “a reinforcement of the currency could not be done at a purely national level, but European (level).” He also said a coordinated EU strategy needed to take into account the vulnerability and risk represented by the newly entered EU members and the importance of strengthening the human capital of the eurozone.

“We must build a strong, single economic governance scheme based on the coordination of all European countries' fiscal policies aimed at curbing public deficit, debt levels and readjusting macroeconomic disequilibrium," the Spanish prime minister said.

For Zapatero, all member states must closely work together to keep debt under control.

Despite the severe crisis ailing Spain (unemployment at 15.5 percent, economy expected to shrink 3 percent this year), Berlusconi said he “envied” its lower debt, amounting to 53 percent of the gross national product (GDP) compared to Italy's 115 percent. “Ours is more than double, Zapatero has done indeed a great job and I congratulate him and his government.”

Berlusconi then praised the solid friendship ties linking the two countries and favoured a proficient bilateral trade, stressing that Italy was Spain's third biggest trade partner. Zapatero said good economic relations was the best antidote to the global downturn.

The Spanish premier's visit to Rome came shortly after one by EU Council President Herman Rompuy and EU Commission President Manuel Barroso with the goal of making Europe speak with "one voice" on financial and economic issues at the G8 and G20 summits.



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