ROME Dec 20 Italy's Senate approved legislation
on Thursday needed to amend the constitution to make future
governments run balanced budgets, giving final clearance to a
key part of the EU's fiscal compact aimed at shoring up
The balanced budget amendment, aimed at calming market fears
over the stability of Italy's public finances and its capacity
to service its 2 trillion euros public debt, was approved in
principle in April.
But the legislation needed to put the amendment into effect
had to be rushed through parliament after Prime Minister Mario
Monti announced he would be standing down early and would hand
in his resignation once the 2013 budget is approved.
The constitutional amendment comes into effect from 2014 and
will allow future Italian governments to run budget deficits
only in exceptional circumstances and with the approval of
It will also establish a new authority to monitor the
budget, similar to the U.S. Congressional Budget Office.
As the Senate wrapped up the last pieces of legislation
needing approval before the government resigns, it also gave
final clearance to a government decree intended to keep the
troubled ILVA steel plant running during a two year cleanup.
Approval of the 2013 budget law is expected on Friday
evening, clearing the way for President Giorgio Napolitano to
order parliament to be dissolved.
(Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Andrew Heavens)