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Padoan Says EU’s Stability Pact Must Evolve to Favor Employment

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said European Union rules that imposed budget rigor during the financial crisis must evolve to favor employment and growth.

“The fiscal pact of the future can’t ignore the fact that the fiscal dimension, the budget dimension, the composition of public spending and structural reforms are all pieces of the same strategy,” Padoan said today at a conference in Trento, Italy. “If new issues are put on the table, that’s not to loosen the standards or disobey the rules, it’s because you want to be serious about growth and employment.”

Padoan and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are setting out their strategy for Italy’s six-month EU presidency in the second half of this year. Fiscal austerity contributed to two years of economic contraction in Italy, and voters are counting on Renzi to make the EU’s policies more expansive.

The EU erred in the early stages of the crisis that began in late 2008 by focusing primarily on fiscal rigor, said Padoan. The finance minister, then-Deputy General Secretary of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said he shared the blame.

“It was the error of everyone, including the person speaking to you,” he said. “Europe still hasn’t had a true conversation, without ideology and with reciprocal trust” about how to best incorporate employment and growth goals into policy recommendations for EU member states, he said.

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