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Der Euro in Europa - Italien

Italien - Italy


Italy 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.

Price rises
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.

Public opinion
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.

Consumer confidence
This hit a five year low in September 2002 as Italians continued to stop spending because of price rises.

Government action
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 up.

Spending cuts
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.

Italy 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.

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