Richard North, 05/07/2004  

After all that worry with resignations and the need to placate his coalition partners, Silvio Berlusconi has managed to avoid an EU warning over Italy’s budget deficit. The Commission would like to see a system whereby there is an early warning given to all those who are likely to have a budget deficit or, indeed, already have one. A sort of political yellow card, one assumes, except that a red card means you are sent off.

Italy’s deficit for the year is forecast to be 3.2 per cent, whereas it should be below 3 per cent. But then, France and Germany continue to break the deficit rules.

Berlusconi went to the Finance Ministers’ meeting today himself, presumably because there was no relevant minister to hand. He explained how his government intended to correct the financial situation and his explanations were deemed to be perfectly adequate by, among others, the Austrian Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser and the French Finance Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.

As George Formby used to say: “Turned out all right again.”

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