Italy’s new premier Enrico Letta hotfooted it to Berlin to meet Angela Merkel hours after winning the final approval on his cabinet by the Senate.
Letta is keen to pursue closer ties with EU partners but must balance the leadership of a fractured coalition of Italy’s main opposition parties, with his agenda of dropping austerity in favour of growth.
Speaking at a press conference in Berlin, the 46-year old Letta set out a clear agenda:
“We want to see Europe show the same determination to pursue growth as it does to maintain sound public finances.”
But the Germans vote in September’s elections and they are strongly in favour of making heavily indebted countries like Italy cut spending.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is a strong advocate of deficit reduction and spending cuts herself but still managed to leave the door ajar:
“For us in Germany, budget consolidation and growth are two elements that are not contradictory but must develop together”.
Letta may have won political approval at home. But currying favour abroad is equally important. He travels to Paris on Wednesday – where French President Francois Hollande is likely to give him a more sympathetic ear – then Brussels for talks with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.