EU's Juncker says Italy centre-left leader in line with Monti

BRUSSELS Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:16am EST

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BRUSSELS Dec 19 (Reuters) - Italy's centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani, whose party is leading in opinion polls, would maintain the reform agenda of Prime Minister Mario Monti if he wins next year's election, the head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday.

"I'm not saying that he (Bersani) will be the next prime minister because it's up to the Italian people but I think it's in the interests of Italy for the reforms initiated by Monti to continue, possibly with some modifications," he said after meeting Bersani in Brussels.

"I think we're heading in the same direction," he said, adding that he had been impressed by his meeting with Bersani.

The praise for Bersani comes after a succession of European leaders have declared that whoever forms Italy's next government must maintain Monti's pledges of economic reform and budget discipline.

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