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Italian report
by Euro Reporter
2012-04-20 07:47:08
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Deficit goals in line with EU rules-document

Italy's revised growth and budget targets are consistent with a balanced budget in the medium term and creating a "sizable" primary surplus to cut the country's massive 1.9-trillion-euro debt, according to an internal European Commission document. The assessment, a technical document which will be submitted to senior EU officials, comes after Italy said on Wednesday its deficit would be 0.5 percent of gross domestic product next year, up from a previous forecast of 0.1 percent, which will be reached instead in 2014. The government forecast an economic contraction this year of 1.2 percent, almost in line with the Commission's forecast of a 1.3 percent drop in output.

Prime Minister Mario Monti, when he took office five months ago, signed up to predecessor Silvio Berlusconi's goal of balancing Italy's budget by next year. Challenges to that target have grown, however, as the economy has fallen into recession and domestic resistance has increased to Monti's programme of reforms - one of the main risks in Europe's still-deepening debt crisis. "The government's policy response has so far been determined and wide-ranging. It has to be implemented in full and as a matter or urgency," said the document, obtained by Reuters on Thursday.

The commission document, like Monti himself, emphasised that Italy will post a structural - adjusted for the business cycle - budget surplus of 0.6 percent next year. The important thing is that Monti reform efforts are continued, the labour reform proposal be passed, and that "sound" management of the public finances be continued "beyond 2013," after next year's national election, the commission said. It also urged Italy to make additional structural reforms aimed at boosting growth.


Museum burns art to protest against crisis

An Italian museum director in the mafia-influenced northeast of Naples has pledged to burn three works of art per week to protest against the lack of spending on culture. Antonio Manfredi plans to torch a photograph entitled "The great circus of Humanity" by Filippos Tsitsopoulus, on Thursday. He has already destroyed two paintings and has selected three more works from the museum's collection of 1,000 for next week. The 50-year-old Manfredi is a full-time artist who has been director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum for seven years.

The museum receives no public funds. But the recession has eliminated what private funding sources it had and Manfredi said the local Camorra mafia has tightened its grip in the area by buying up struggling businesses. "I don't know who to turn to anymore for money," Manfredi told Reuters. "And I refuse to ask the Camorra."

Worse than the lack of funds is the indifference of politicians to the plight of the nation's vast cultural wealth, which is increasingly bankrupt, while mafia influence grows, he said. The plight of Casoria's small, private contemporary art museum reflects problems felt by public contemporary art museums in Rome, Naples and Palermo, which have virtually no funding for new exhibitions. Italy's belt-tightening to restore faith in its ability to pay back 1.9 trillion Euros ($2.5 trillion) in debt has hit cultural spending particularly hard. Rome's MAXXI museum, just over two years old, was placed under special administration earlier this month after running into financial problems and the MADRE in Naples has closed two floors because it cannot afford to put exhibits there.


Uproar after illegal immigrants are deported gagged with duct tape and bound with plastic bands

An investigation has been launched after two illegal immigrants were deported from Italy gagged with duct tape across their mouths, surgical masks across their faces and their hands tied with plastic bands. Details of the case emerged after a passenger travelling on the same flight as the two men took a snap of the incident with his mobile phone as he boarded the plane. He asked police who were accompanying the Algerians why they were being treated in such a way. Prosecutors opened an investigation into what had happened on the Alitalia flight from Rome to Tunis earlier this week after the story was picked up by the Italian media and splashed across several front pages as well as dominating TV news bulletins and websites.

Police justified their actions saying the men had been biting their lips and tongues and spitting blood at officers and other passengers in an attempt to hold up the deportation. The incident happened after the men landed in Rome and then refused to board an onward flight they had booked to Istanbul. On his posting, Sperandeo, from Palermo, wrote: 'Look what happened today on the 9.20 Rome-Tunis Alitalia flight. Two Tunisians [he was unaware of their correct nationality] thrown out of Italy and treated in an inhuman manner. 'They had brown packing tape across their mouths and plastic bands on their wrists. This is civility and European democracy. 'But the most serious aspect is that everything took place to the total indifference of the passengers and when I asked for them to be treated more humanely I was told in an arrogant manner to get back to my seat as it was a normal police operation....Normal ????

'Anyway I managed to take a picture. Spread the word and denounce this.' By late today, more than 5,000 people had shared the posting with hundreds of comments being posted both on his Facebook site and on the web pages of Italian newspapers, with many expressing outrage. MPs from all parties also called for the government to investigate. Gianfranco Fini, president of the Italian lower house of parliament, said: 'I ask the government to explain fully the circumstances of what happened.' He added that he had asked police Chief Antonio Manganelli to look into the incident. Laura Boldrini, Rome-based spokesperson for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, said: 'This is scandalous treatment. It is humiliating and unjustified. 'I am completely speechless. I have never seen people treated like this in Italy.

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