Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has had talks with employers, trade union leaders and government ministers. Berlusconi is said to have promised to pass ECB-agreed austerity measures by emergency decree.
The aim of the meeting was to focus on growth and find ways to fast track 20 billion euros of deficit reduction by 2013.
But any cuts will face union opposition due to concerns that they will hit ordinary Italians the hardest. “We don’t want to pay for this crisis,” said public workers’ union representative Vincenzo Buttiglieri, “it must be paid for by those who caused it, the banks and the government.”
Last week, the Italian government pledged to balance its budget in two years, a year earlier than planned.This was in exchange for the ECB buying Italian bonds on the open market, thereby driving down interest rates.