Rome

Monti faces crucial week for euro and growth measures

Premier to meet French president in Rome Tuesday

Monti faces crucial week for euro and growth measures

(ANSA) - Rome, September 3 - Italian premier Mario Monti prepared Monday for a series of meetings aimed tackling economic growth and addressing Italy's sovereign debt crisis in a week deemed crucial for the fate of the euro. Monti is scheduled to meet French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday in Rome. Reforms passed by Monti's temporary government of technocrats have earned praise from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but she and other government voices maintained a hard line Monday against systemic changes that could ease Europe's sovereign debt crisis at Germany's expense. "In a phase this difficult," the weak countries of the Eurozone "have earned our solidarity and our hope that they overcome their difficulties," Merkel said Monday at a public debate in Bavaria. But a government spokesman confirmed the German government remains contrary to Eurobonds, which would redistribute the debt of individual Eurozone countries across the entire Eurozone. "On this, Berlin's position has not changed," said Stefen Seibert on Monday. Meanwhile, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cautioned against "excessive expectations" for the next European Central Bank (ECB) meeting scheduled for Thursday, telling German public radio that "debts of (Eurozone) states can not be financed by the European Central Bank," and thus knocked hopes that the ECB could be empowered to buy troubled bonds of Eurozone countries. On Wednesday, Monti is to talk competitiveness with major Italian business associations - representing industrialists, enterprises, large cooperatives, banks and insurance companies. Monti must also contend with demands of major unions, including Italy's biggest, the left-wing CGIL, which called for taxes to be dropped on the extra salary that the country's workers and pensioners are paid in December to help boost weak consumer spending. CGIL head Susanna Camusso said the move could be financed by money raised from the fight on rampant tax evasion in recession-hit Italy. Camusso told Rome-based daily La Repubblica that the government needed to show a "signal of discontinuity" with the policies it has pursued up to now and "give a little more money to the workers". CGIL has been highly critical of many moves made by Premier Mario Monti's emergency administration, especially its public sector cuts and reforms of the labour market to make it easier for firms to fire workers. Camusso said Italy's unions may call a general strike if the government does not give "answers" to their concerns. Italian workers' and pensioners' salaries are paid in 13 installments, with an extra one on December to help with the spending families traditionally incur over the Christmas period. photo: Premier Mario Monti with CGIL union leader head Susanna Camusso.

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