European Union President Herman Van Rompuy has welcomed new Italian austerity measures as "crucially important" for the entire 17-nation eurozone.
"I fully support and welcome the timely and rigorous financial measures," Van Rompuy said in a statement after a telephone conversation with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday evening."I underlined that these approved measures are crucially important not only for Italy but for the eurozone as a whole."Berlusconi also had talks Saturday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet, who both "strongly appreciated" the new austerity budget, the Italian premier has said.Another discussion was planned with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Italy's cabinet approved a 45.5 billion euro ($64.8 billion) austerity package of cuts and tax hikes on Friday that would see high earners taxed more and substantial cuts to local government in a bid to return Italy to a balanced budget in 2013 instead of 2014 as previously planned.It is Italy's second austerity budget in as many months, after the government agreed a package of savings worth 48 billion euros in July.
The new measures were in line with demands from the European Central Bank in return for support given to Italy's bond markets this week.Berlusconi on Saturday boasted: "I think I can say that it would have been difficult for any other government in Europe to do what we have done, producing a plan with such rich content in such a short time."