Renzi Turns to English Translation to Woo Investors to Italy

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, in his first official visit to London, pledged to simplify labor-market rules and make them available in English to attract investment and keep entrepreneurs out of trouble.

“Changes to the labor market in recent years have created more bureaucracy and haven’t resolved problems,” Renzi said today at a news conference with Prime Minister David Cameron. “We have 2,100 articles regulating the labor market in Italy, so it’s normal you always end up in court. Now we’re planning a labor code with only 50 or 60 articles, written also in very clear English for investors.”

Renzi, 39, is under growing pressure to stimulate an Italian economy that has stagnated for 13 years. Unemployment unexpectedly rose to a record of 13 percent in February, a sign Renzi said demonstrates the failure of his predecessors to give businesses the support they need to expand. The premier’s labor-market plan, part of his first 100 days legislative push, is now up for debate in parliament.

“We’re lacking flexibility,” Renzi said. His plan will “give assurances to those that haven’t had any in recent years and give greater openings for companies to invest in Italy.”

Renzi needs to forge consensus among lawmakers where former Prime Minister Mario Monti failed. Monti’s 2012 attempt to give employers more freedom to hire and fire was frustrated by parliament and interest groups and was cited by the ex-premier as one of his disappointments.

Speeding Legislation

The labor-market overhaul is accompanied in Renzi’s program by plans for 10 billion euros ($13.8 billion) of tax cuts and proposals to speed legislation and civil justice.

“You’ll see in coming months how this change will bring Italy back below a double-digit unemployment rate,” Renzi said. “We want to get back below 10 percent, this is our goal and we’ll get there in coming months and coming years.”

Four recessions in the last 13 years left Italy’s gross domestic product at 1.56 trillion euros last year, 2 percent lower in real terms than in 2001. The 13 percent unemployment rate announced today is the highest since the Rome-based national statistics office Istat data series began in the first quarter of 1977.

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