Der Euro in Europa - Italien
has seen the most consumer discontent in
the Eurozone over price rises. There have
been several consumer boycotts: one in July,
in which 15m Italians were said to have
participated; one in September, in which
24m took part. More recently, a consumer
association called Aduc has called on Italians
to boycott pizza as a protest.
Prices have risen in 77
percent of shops and services, according
to a report by consumer association Altroconsumo
and the average family is nearly €730 poorer
off after the introduction of the euro.
The consumer association Eurispes calculated
in January 2003, that the price of bread
has risen by 19 percent since the launch
of the euro. In Rimini, according to Bild-Zeitung,
a German paper, the price of an average
ice-cream has risen by 47 percent, a glass
of beer by nearly 76 percent and a bottle
of mineral water by 25 percent. A bottle
of Italian Frascati now costs €3 as opposed
to €2 in lira.
A poll published in Italian
weekly Famiglia Cristiana in January 2003
showed that 54 percent of Italians want
the lira back and 79 percent felt they were
poorer off since the euro was introduced.
This hit a five year
low in September 2002 as Italians continued
to stop spending because of price rises.
Silvio Berlusconi has said
that he will re-introduce dual pricing in
lire and euro because Italians have not
got used to the euro – Eurispes has calculated
that 91 percent of Italians still think
in lire and have to make the mental conversion
to euros (at an exchange rate of 1936/1).
Berlusconi himself has said, “as far as
the euro is concerned, when I have to buy
something important, I think twice” (Corriere
della Sera, September 2002). Berlusconi
has also introduced price freezes on gas,
electricity and postal services because
of complaints that the euro has pushed prices
Italy, like most big Eurozone
countries, has problems with the Stability
and Growth Pact, meaning that it is having
to cut public spending to adhere to euro
spending rules. In July, the government
announced plans to sell its shares in several
national or part-owned industries, including
Alitalia, Seat and Enel, the national electricty
provider. There are also reports that government-owned
works of art and even stretches of beach
are to be sold off to raise money.
has a high budget deficit of 2.2 percent,
close to the 3 percent limit imposed by
the Stability Pact. Italy is also breaking
the Stability Pact with its debt level,
which is over 100 percent of GDP.