Raffarin, Berlusconi to tackle Franco-Italian disputes

25th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

ROME, Jan 24 (AFP) - French and Italian Prime Ministers Jean Raffarin and Silvio Belrusconi were scheduled here Tuesday to try to iron out economic differences and to re-affirm their backing for reforms to the European Union Stability and Growth pact.

ROME, Jan 24 (AFP) - French and Italian Prime Ministers Jean Raffarin and Silvio Belrusconi were scheduled here Tuesday to try to iron out economic differences and to re-affirm their backing for reforms to the European Union Stability and Growth pact.

The pact has been enfeebled by the refusal of EU finance ministers to bring France and Germany to heel for allowing their public deficits to surpass a ceiling of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product.

France and Italy have both backed measures to modify the pact, accused by some critics of hampering growth in difficult economic times.

French President Jacques Chirac this month suggested that costs of investment by EU member-states should be given "special treatment" under the pact so as not to worsen the economic situation of member countries suffering from weak growth.

The European Commission's Italian Vice-President Franco Frattini agreed Monday with the Chirac suggestion.

"In a period of stagnation, there should be an interpretation of the stability pact that takes account of virtuous investments made by member-states, in other words investments required by the EU such as research, training, or the competitiveness of the labour market," he told a press conference.

Other issues likely to come under discussion at the Tuesday one-day prime ministers' meeting include voting rights of the French state energy company EDF in the Italian company Edison. These rights have been blocked at a ceiling of two percent since 2001 by a decree of the Italian government.

EDF chief Pierre Gadonneix was in Rome Monday for talks with Italian Economics Minister Domenico Siniscalco and Berlusconi's close adviser Gianni Letta to discuss the conditions for an EDF presence in Italy.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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