EU must learn from Italy's election, says Hollande

Danger of Euro 'rejection' if consolidation too fast

EU must learn from Italy's election, says Hollande

Brussels, March 15 - French President Francois Hollande said at the European Union summit on Friday that the bloc had to learn the lesson from Italy's post-election impasse and be more flexible with its demands for fiscal consolidation. Outgoing Premier Mario Monti sent a letter to European leaders at the summit saying that Italy should be able to use "every possible ulterior margin" within the European Stability Pact to be able to boost growth and employment. Monti's emergency administration implemented austerity measures to comply with European budget commitments but these policies deepened Italy's recession and caused unemployment to rise above 11%. The approach seemed to be rejected by Italian voters in last month's election. Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left alliance came first in the elections, but failed to win a working majority in the Senate because of votes pulled in by three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre right and Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S). Both Berlusconi and comedian-turned-politician Grillo were accused of using Euroskeptic, populist rhetoric in the election campaign. Monti's reform platform backed by centrist parties, meanwhile, did less well than expected. "When consolidation takes place too fast, the risk is that Europe gets rejected," Hollande said Friday when asked about Monti's letter. "This is the lesson the absolutely must be learned". Monti did not attend that second day of what is almost certainly his last EU summit as premier because he returned to Rome for the opening sessions of the new term of parliament.

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