HIGHLIGHTS-Berlusconi, Tremonti news conference on Italy crisis
ROME, Aug 5 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi announced on Friday the government would bring forward its austerity program to try to balance the budget in 2013 instead of 2014 in response to market "speculation" against Italy.
The following are some of the highlights of a news conference he held with Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti:
"There is a very difficult situation on financial markets .. I spent the afternoon on the telephone with all the main colleagues from the euro zone, with Van Rompuy, with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Sarkozy, Zapatero, to co-ordinate our response to what is happening."
"There is a very particular attention from international speculation on us that we must try to counter."
"We have agreed our measures with the other European leaders and international bodies."
"We will immediately work with parliament to introduce the principle of a balanced budget into our constitution."
"We consider it appropriate to introduce an acceleration of the measures which we introduced recently in the fiscal planning law to give us the possibility of reaching our objective of balancing the budget early, by 2013 instead of 2014."
"Among the measures we will immediately put before parliament ... the economy minister will go to parliament to set out the law on tax and welfare reform and we will ask the presidents of the lower house and the Senate to make sure that this can be adopted in the coming months, if not by the end of September."
"This evening I will be telephoned by President Obama and I want to remind you that nothing that is happening can be put down to the responsibility of any country, it is something that regards the global financial situation."
"We have taken the decision with President Sarkozy to bring forward and hold in just a few days a G7 of finance ministers, perhaps in preparation of a heads of state G8 if the finance ministers manage to reach a common plan of action."
"We have decided to bring forward the contents of our austerity program, there will not be additional or new measures. The real political point is the decision to bring forward our austerity plan."
"Labour market reform is fundamental for growth, for attracting investment and above all for the future of our young people. We have a reform plan already drawn up that needs to be presented to the unions and employers and after being discussed with them it will be presented to the Senate."
"The talks (with Geithner on Friday) regarded the choice of bringing forward the balanced budget to 2013 and introducing the balanced budget principle in the constitution and pushing for growth with strongly liberal and liberalising measures."
"I spoke at length this morning with Commissioner Rehn and we agreed the Commission's statements on the Italian austerity plan. It's not a question of changing it, it's a question of bringing it forward by a year because in a month it seems like the world has changed." (Reporting by Gavin Jones and James Mackenzie; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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