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Berlusconi wants new government to 'confront' EU's austerity agenda

The 76-year-old former premier is set to join a new grand coalition – and says he’s hoping to be made the Minister for Finance.

Image: Gregorio Borgia/AP

FORMER ITALIAN prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose party is set to join a new governing coalition taking shape today, has said the new government should “confront” Europe over austerity and the 3-per-cent deficit ceiling.

“We could think about confronting Europe, explaining that the limit of 3 per cent on the deficit and the fiscal compact are correct but not when you are already in recession,” Berlusconi told the Corriere della Sera in an interview.

“Would there be a stand-off with the European Union? Not necessarily. I don’t see a common leadership on this and I think even Brussels is becoming convinced that there has been too much austerity,” Berlusconi said.

The 76-year-old billionaire tycoon said he wanted to be the new finance minister – but admitted this was unlikely and suggested that a leading member of his People of Freedom party, Renato Brunetta, should take the post instead.

Brunetta has been sharply critical of Germany’s role in Europe and has argued against the budget austerity implemented by former European commissioner Mario Monti’s outgoing government, including an unpopular property tax.

Monti replaced Berlusconi after the scandal-tainted premier was ousted by a rebellion within his ranks and a wave of panic on the financial markets.

Berlusconi attacked technocrat Monti saying: “He terrorised by fixing terrible targets. Now we need a political government that can re-start the economy. If they really wanted to do things well they would call on me.”

Moderate leftist Enrico Letta, a Europhile who has also called for an easing of austerity and urgent attention to social issues, has been invited to form a government and is currently scrambling to put together a cabinet and end weeks of political uncertainty in one of Europe’s biggest economies.

- © AFP, 2013

Read: Italy’s next PM drives to nomination meeting in his own Fiat minivan

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