December 2, 2019 / 1:25 PM / 6 days ago

Italy PM Conte defends ESM reform but calls for additional measures

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not pictured) hold a news conference in Rome, Italy, November 11, 2019. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday told parliament a contested reform of the euro zone’s bailout fund was in Italy’s national interest, but that it should be approved as a package alongside other measures.

A reform of European Stability Mechanism (ESM) is due to be approved by the bloc’s countries this month, but Italy’s right-wing opposition is against it and accuses Conte of “betrayal” by agreeing to the changes without involving parliament.

“We can affirm that the negotiation conducted thus far has reached a balance in line with the national interest,” Conte told the Chamber of Deputies, listing numerous occasions when he said he had informed parliament of progress in negotiations.

However, he said other measures, including a common bank deposit guarantee, progress on a euro zone budget and a common unemployment insurance mechanism, should be passed along with the ESM reform.

Negotiations on these reforms are far less advanced.

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte, writing by Gavin Jones

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