A coalition of Italian left-leaning associations, academics and politicians launched Tuesday a campaign that aims to abolish European Union-mandated legislation on budget discipline.
Their target is a 2012 law which interprets a balanced budget requirement set by the Italian Constitution, setting principles which – according to critics of EU austerity policies – are too restrictive.
“We need a radical change of cultural paradigm” after “the failed laissez-faire and neo-conservative [economic] recipes that have been imposed on us,” Stefano Fassina said in a press conference at the Italian lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies.
Fassina is a member of a minority faction of lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party who are revolting against plans by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to liberalize labour laws and cut public spending.
Italy’s deficit is currently under the EU-mandated ceiling of 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). However, its public debt stands at around 135 per cent of GDP, more than double the EU limit, forcing the government to keep spending on a tight leash.
Fassina and other campaigners – including the opposition Left Ecology Freedom Party, trade unions and green groups – are seeking to collect 50,000 signatures, allowing them to formally table their proposals in parliament.
They say their initiative complements a parallel campaign to soften the terms of the balanced budget law via referendum. Efforts are ongoing to collect 500,000 signatures, the minimum threshold for referendum bids in Italy, ahead of a September 30 deadline.