BRUSSELS European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said on Wednesday that the European Union supported efforts by new Italian prime minister Enrico Letta to grow Italy's economy, but public finances must be kept in order.
Letta has preached an end to austerity while at the same time pledging to meet European Union debt targets, but his fledgling coalition already is at odds over how to pay for cuts to an unpopular housing tax.
"The Prime Minister informed me of the main elements of the programme of his government, in particular the measures he intends to introduce to re-launch economic growth to make Italy more competitive, and to tackle the difficult social and employment situation," Van Rompuy said in a statement after their meeting in Brussels.
"I reiterated that the EU will continue to stand by Italy in pursuing our common commitment to overcome the economic crisis and promoting growth and jobs, in making full use of the existing flexibility while keeping sound public finance as a key objective."
(Reporting by Ethan Bilby; Editing by Michael Roddy)