Crisis: Sarkozy to meet with Merkel, Monti on Wednesday

Italy-France axis for a supportive Europe

09 January, 11:33

Sarkozy to meet with Merkel, Monti in Berlin on Wednesday Sarkozy to meet with Merkel, Monti in Berlin on Wednesday

(ANSAmed) - PARIS - The new Italy-France axis launched on Friday is already coming up against its most difficult challenge: an exchange of views with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Italian prime minister Mario Monti and Franch President Nicolas Sarkozy will be trying on convince Germany that Europe will have to be more disciplined but cannot show such a lack of solidarity if it wants to get out of the crisis and resume growth. Making an already difficult mission almost impossible is the obstacle of the recent split over the Tobin Tax, an absolute priority only for Paris and abhorred by London.

This tax on financial transactions was also discussed by Mario Monti, who said that Italy is wiling to work on the tax at the European level and that it cannot be applied solely in Italy.

''The Berlusconi government,'' added Monti, ''underscored his opposition to it at the European level, while I would like to make clear the Italian government's opening up to the option. We are willing to work on the matter, but absolutely not is it is to be applied solely in Italy. But in a phase in which we are very interested in obtaining close collaboration with such countries as Germany and France, why not? And I am not saying this because I was a Tobin's student.'' Meanwhile, Sarkozy will be sharing a meal with Merkel today, strengthened by greater confidence in backing from his Italian counterpart and a few extra percentage points in presidential polls. The Italian prime minister will then be going to Berlin on Wednesday, with the awareness that Italy is once again more seen as more reliable thanks to the heavy budget law in December and the government's new pragmatism. ''Europe must do its part, and soon,'' were the words said on Friday in the French presidential palace during Monti's visit, and they will be heard again in Berlin. Afterwards Monti - who as concerns the Tobin Tax has aligned himself with Merkel and not with Sarkozy, who considers it a priority - will go to London to try to bring about a resumption of dialogue with Cameron, who is every day moving farther away from Europe: first with a veto on treaty reform, and over the past few hours with an unconditional rejection of the tax on financial transactions, in order to protect London's economic interests. To follow in this January packed with talks, with be the Monti-Merkel-Sarkozy meeting in Rome on January 20, and then the end-of-the-month summit in Brussels. However, the first stop in Berlin today with Sarkozy's visit and Wednesday's one with Monti seems able to set the pace for what will follow. Italy and France, to lower taxes and see some light at the end of the tunnel of crisis, are expecting stimulus both decisive and substantial - even in the endowment, as Monti implied - from the bailout fund of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and are also focusing in a determined manner on the second phase - that of growth, without which everything else becomes simply a palliative. In this view, the project bonds to get Europe back on its feet with infrastructure are more popular than eurobonds, pure management of the huge current debt. The 500 billion maximum of the current fund, the EFSF, is not nearly enough, Monti has made clear, and Merkel will have to listen to the requests of its partners. On the other hand, Rome and Paris will not agree to a further tightening of the Fiscal Compact, the agreement on budget rules called for by ECB president Mario Draghi and the German chancellor. It seems an uphill battle, Italy - with its international esteem regained - seems to be in a better position than France: Paris will have to rely on the new government in Rome to work as a team after London moved further way by breaking ranks also as concerns the Tobin Tax.


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