To Europe's Thrifty, Austerity Is Just Unfair

Better-off provinces and towns say only big spenders need to cut
An Italian street vendor (left) talks about his plight during a clampdown by authorities against illegal street trading in central Naples Photograph by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

South Tyrol in the Italian Alps, like many regions in Europe, is being asked by the central government to absorb big tax increases and spending cuts. Some local leaders instead propose buying their fiscal independence from Rome. “We are willing to contribute, ” says Thomas Widmann, economics minister for Italy’s wealthiest province. He suggests that South Tyrol pay €15 billion ($19.9 billion), its share of Italy’s €1.9 trillion debt based on the province’s population, in exchange for total control over local taxing and spending.

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