BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union lawmakers from the two parties forming Italy’s new government coalition backed this week a rejected proposal to set up EU funds to help countries quit the euro, a sign of the Italian leadership’s ambivalent position on the common currency.
Their vote came as the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and far-right League were finalizing a deal to form an executive in Rome, under pledges that leaving the euro was not in their government program. The government was sworn in on Friday.
An earlier attempt to form a government foundered after the parties proposed as economy minister an economist who had devised a plan for Italy’s departure from the euro zone, prompting his rejection by the head of state.
Despite the declared intentions to stay in the euro, all six EU lawmakers from the League and all but one of the 14 5-Star Members of the European Parliament voted on Wednesday for a document that called for the establishment of programs of financial support “for member states that plan to negotiate their exit from the euro.”
In a statement on Friday the 5-Star delegation in the European Parliament said their vote was meant to show support for countries that may find themselves in extreme economic situations, such as having to leave the euro.
“To affirm the principle of collaboration with countries in difficulty does not mean at all to be willing to leave the euro,” the note said. It added: “Italy does not want to quit the euro”.
Representatives of the League in Brussels were not immediately available for comment.
The document voted on by their EU lawmakers called for compensation for “the social and economic damages caused by the euro zone membership.”
The document was an amendment to a European Parliament resolution on the EU budget for the 2021-2027 period. The proposal, advanced by three leftist MEPs, was backed by 90 lawmakers but was rejected by a majority of the 750 MEPs.
Among members of the new government is economist Paolo Savona, who created a plan for Italy’s departure from the common currency.
Savona denied that the new government would seek to dump the euro. He was moved to the role of minister for the relations with the EU, after Italian President Sergio Mattarella vetoed his appointment as finance minister.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Toby Chopra