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Reform of the Mes, EU pressing on Italy after the decision of the German Court

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Reform of the Mes, EU pressing on Italy after the decision of the German Court

BRUSSELS. Now the Italian government has no more excuses. The German Constitutional Court has rejected the appeal presented by seven liberal deputies against the reform of the ESM, the European Stability Mechanism, thus unlocking the ratification by the Bundestag, expected shortly. The German stalemate had been used by Rome as a shield to justify the Italian non-decision on ratification, but now the Meloni government can no longer stall because the EU pressing will put it with its back to the wall. For the majority it is a test by fire.

The reform of the Mes, which until a few years ago in Italy was called the Salva-Stati Fund, has been contested in recent years by the Five Star Movement, the League and the Brothers of Italy. The archives are full of belligerent statements by Giorgia Meloni, who in December 2019 went to Brussels to reiterate her opposition. The motivation of the critics is that the new rules would make it easier to restructure the debt of countries that ask for financial assistance from the Luxembourg-based institution. Meloni had said in Parliament that “the reform of the Mes serves the German banks and penalizes Italy”. Those who defend the reform, on the other hand, argue that this is not the case and that Italy would indeed benefit greatly from the new Mes because the reform also assigns it the function of a “backstop”, transforming it into a financial parachute for the Single Resolution Fund for banking crises . And this, according to the Bank of Italy, “would help to contain the risks of contagion associated with possible banking crises of systemic importance”.

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The reform of the Mes had been negotiated at the European tables by the Conte I government, supported by Lega and M5S, when Giovanni Tria was in the Ministry of Finance. The definitive green light had then arrived during Conte II (formed by M5S and Pd) with Roberto Gualtieri at the Mef. For entry into force, however, ratification is required in all national parliaments, a step that even the Draghi government has never been able to face precisely due to the opposition of Lega and M5S. In recent weeks, the government had reaffirmed its willingness to await the pronouncement of the German court.

As the president of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe, underlined, the Karlsruhe verdict “is an important step that paves the way for its ratification by Germany”. And which leaves a very hot potato in the hands of the Meloni government.

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