Italy’s government standoff over appointment of ‘radically anti-German’ Fin Min

TheEuropeanCentralBank /
TheLocal.De — The standoff between Italy’s president and the Italian coalition hoping to form a government centres on their pick for the economy minister, a staunch eurosceptic Paolo Savona, who has been described by a former finance minister as “radically anti-German”.
On Saturday, Salvinini leader of Lega wrote on Twitter in responce to recent articles in the German press: “German newspapers and politicians are insulting us as Italian beggars, lazy and ungrateful… And must we choose a Finance Minister who suits them? No, thank you! “

A fierce critic of the Maastricht Treaty and the euro, 81-year-old Savona has a career in finance and economics that stretches back to the 1960s and was Minister of Trade and Industry in the early 1990s.

In his latest book, “Like a Nightmare and a Dream”, Savona calls the single currency a “German cage”, and his hostility to the euro is causing President Sergio Mattarella to hesitate over his appointment amid a flurry of warnings from Brussels.

In the book, Savona strikes a decidedly hardline tone, writing that “we need to prepare a plan B to get out of the euro if necessary … the other alternative is to end up like Greece.”

He also uses the book to attack Italian officials who decided to take Italy into the euro, which he claims has “halved Italians’ purchasing power”, the European Central Bank (ECB) and its president Mario Draghi.

Particularly harsh words are reserved for Germany.

“Germany didn’t change its idea on its role in Europe after the end of Nazism, even if it abandoned the idea of imposing itself militarily,” the 81-year-old writes.

Despite the fierce backing of prime minister nominee Giuseppe Conte, Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio and in particular League chief Matteo Salvini, Mattarella is refusing to give in on appointing Savona, despite worries the coalition will collapse if he isn’t given the role.

Savona has defended himself against charges of being Europhobic, saying that he is simply criticising institutions that are failing the European people.

“I’m passed off as one of those rare anti-European institutional economists but it is not true. I would be in favour of a united Europe in principle, and that’s why I talk about the worst of what I see today in Brussels,” Catholic daily Avvenire quote him as saying.

“Europe’s difficulties are down to the elites who run it: they say they take care of the people but they only take care of themselves,” he said.

Born in Sardinian capital Cagliari in October 1936, Paolo Savona began his career at the Bank of Italy after gaining a master’s degree in economics and commerce in 1961.

He then specialised in monetary economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in 1976 he returned to Sardinia, leaving the Bank of Italy to become Professor of Economic Policy at the University of Cagliari.

He was director general of business association Confindustria, president of a small Sardinian bank and then head of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), a major Italian bank.

He has also been a member and sometimes chairman of a number of boards, including of Aeroporti di Roma and Telecom Italia. On Wednesday he resigned as chair of London-based investment fund Euklid.