Category: ITALY

Italy Education Reforms Face Fierce Opposition from Students

As part of wider austerity measures to reduce budget deficit, Italian government proposedItaly students strike education reforms the bill on which is introduced in Senate on November 22. Thousands of students opposing the reforms took to streets in several cities of Italy. Analysts say the Italy’s education sector is already under-funded. The education minister aims to save 9 billion Euros by cutting spending on public education system.

Because of reforms, the number of university courses would be cut down, some smaller universities would be merged, funding for grants would be reduced, the role of the private sector would be encouraged and the duration of rectorships would be limited. Private friendly media continued to support reforms attempting to reduce the scale of opposition to reform measures. The BBC reporter said Italy’s aging professors and teachers possessed excessive powers.

The spending cuts in education will lead to loss of nearly 130,000 jobs in education sector. Irony is that Italy spends less than 5 percent of its GDP for education, which is less than many developed countries.


Italian Students Protest against Education Cuts

Italian students are on war path protesting against education reforms planned as part of wider austerity measures. Tens of thousands of students marched in cities all over Italy on November 24. Students were organised in more than 50 cities. They occupied premises of 44 universities out of 66 government funded universities. Their protests included picketing, suspending classes and climbing on top of faculty buildings, administrative buildings and buildings of tourist attractions.

In Rome, the student protestors formed a human chain around the ancient Leaning Tower of PisaStudent protests in Florence, Italy and the Colosseum. About 2,000 students marched through the city surrounding the Pisa tower to prevent tourists from visiting the tower, BBC reported. They climbed to the top tire of the tower to hang a banner. They even tried to enter Parliament building. Teachers and Researchers also joined protests extending their support.

Hundreds of student chanted slogans and with banners and red smoking flares nearby the Parliament where the discussions were taking place on education reforms. Students pledged they would not allow passing the educations cuts in the Parliament. They threw stones and eggs on official buildings and riot police who blocked them. Some students were arrested and complaints were filed. Protests took place in several cities including Padova, Siena, Florence, Turin, Naples, Pavia, Perugia, Palemo and Saierno.

The proposed educations reforms are called Geimini Reforms named after Maria Stella Geimini, Minister of Education. The reforms aimed to decrease funds allocated to public education drastically. The reductions in funds allocation would lead to massive layoffs and reduced education programmes. Around nine billion euro cuts are proposed in the reforms bill. Nearly, 130,000 jobs will be lost from the educations system.

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Gaddafi wants EU cash to stop African migrants

BBC News | 31 August 2010 | 12:47 GMT

Gaddafi visits Italy Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi says the EU should pay Libya at least 5bn Euros (£4bn; $6.3bn) a year to stop illegal African immigration and avoid a "black Europe". Speaking on a visit to Italy, Col Gaddafi said Europe "could turn into Africa" as "there are millions of Africans who want to come in". Italy has drawn criticism for handing over to Libya migrants it intercepts at sea, without screening them first. Far fewer now reach Italy from Libya.

European Commission figures show that in 2009 the number of people caught trying to enter Italy illegally fell to 7,300, from 32,052 in 2008. The data was collected under the EU’s Eurodac fingerprinting system. Col Gaddafi has forged close ties with Italy since a friendship treaty was signed two years ago. It sought to draw a line under historic bitterness between Libya and Italy, its former colonial master. "Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European, and even black, as there are millions who want to come in," said Col Gaddafi, quoted by the AFP news agency.

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Italians join austerity protest, France stands firm

Reuters | Fri Jun 25, 2010 | 7:42pm IST

Italy strikes Italian workers joined a wave of strikes in Europe against austerity cuts and welfare reform but governments stood their ground on Friday, with France rejecting any major compromise on raising the retirement age. Support for Friday’s Italian general strike, called by the country’s biggest trade union, appeared patchy after a big turnout for French protests on Thursday. Even leading industrial nations appeared at odds over how hard and fast to tackle their huge budget deficits and debt piles, sending ripples of concern across financial markets. The left-leaning CGIL, which has six million members, called rallies in nearly every major Italian city, aiming to force the government to water down 25 billion euros in cuts, which Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says is an essential part of European efforts to save the euro currency.

A senior CGIL official reflected an acceptance among many European workers that something has to be done to curb state debt, but also a fear that the austerity will hit the poor most. "No one denies that we need to make cuts, but they must be cuts which are fair and look to the future, rather than just slashing spending," said Susanna Camusso, deputy leader of the CGIL, leading a march in the leftist stronghold of Bologna. The strike is testing the resolve of Berlusconi, whose poll ratings have hit new lows as unemployment has risen and the euro zone’s third largest economy has struggled to emerge from its worst post-War recession. But Italians may lack the solidarity to force a climbdown. The other two main unions asked their members to work on Friday. Initial support appeared to be muted, with several bus and metro services in Rome still running.


"Clearly you go on strike to attain something and we never seem to attain anything," said driver Maurizio Rinaldi at Rome Termini station, where commuters queued in the sun. Friday’s stoppage followed union protests in France and Greece this week against plans for pension reform and budget cuts. Members of the 16-nation euro zone have rushed to approve austerity measures to restore confidence in the common currency and halt contagion from 

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Fitch downgrades Spain, ECB warns of contagion

Reuters | Sat May 29, 2010 | 3:11am IST

Spanish flag Fitch downgraded Spain’s credit rating on Friday, a day after the country adopted austerity measures, demonstrating the difficulty of steering out of the euro zone debt crisis with budget cuts that restrict growth. The widely anticipated downgrade followed a warning by a European Central Bank policymaker that Europe’s predicament could spread to other regions while labor unions threatened strikes and investment banks were hurting. Spain’s parliament approved a 15 billion euro ($18.4 billion) spending cut on Thursday, following the lead of Greece, Portugal and Italy in trying to ease a crisis that has undercut the euro, rattled banks and threatened European cohesion. The euro has fallen nearly 8 percent versus the U.S. dollar in May, and gold hit a record high earlier this month as investors searched for a safe haven.

On Wall Street, the Dow and the S&P 500 both fell more than 1 percent on Friday, contributing to the worst monthly decline for the indexes since February 2009. The Fitch downgrade "definitely spooked the market, no doubt about it," said Terry Morris, senior equity manager for National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pennsylvania. Spain’s cuts have angered labor unions and Fitch Ratings cited lower economic growth resulting from "a lower level of private sector and external indebtedness" in knocking the country’s rating to AA+ from AAA. Standard & Poor’s downgraded Spain last month but put its outlook at negative while Fitch rated it stable. "Stable? Spain should be downgraded multiple notches," said Win Thin, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York. 

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Europe debt crisis threatens recovery, OECD warns

BBC News | Wednesday, 26 May 2010 | 16:09 GMT

The eurozone must overhaul the management of its economy to ensure economic recovery and the survival of the euro, a global body has warned. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the recent debt crisis poses a threat to Europe’s weak recovery. "Bolder measures" are needed to be taken to ensure the crisis is brought under control, the OECD said. It forecast the eurozone’s economy would grow by 1.2% this year. That is better than the 0.9% growth estimate the OECD made in its last economic outlook in November. "A gradual recovery is under way driven by economic policy stimulus, a rebound in world trade and improving financial conditions," the organisation, made up of 31 countries, said. "[But] the sovereign debt crisis has highlighted the need for the euro area to strengthen significantly its institutional and operational architecture to dissipate doubts about the long-term viability of the monetary union," it said.

Interest rate warning

The report added that "bolder measures" needed to be taken to "ensure fiscal discipline". Following the multi-billion euro bail-out package for Greece announced earlier this month, Germany has been among those calling for tougher measures for member states that do not manage their finances effectively. The OECD appeared to agree, arguing for "closer surveillance" of public finances by regulators and more effective sanctions for countries that fail to reduce borrowing quickly enough. Globally, OECD members are expected to grow by 2.7% this year, and 2.8% in 2011.   

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Volcker Sees Euro ‘Disintegration’ Risk from Greece

Bloomberg | May 14, 2010 | 02:52 EDT

Paul Volcker Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker said he’s concerned that the euro area may break up after the Greek fiscal crisis that sparked an unprecedented bailout by the region’s members. “You have the great problem of a potential disintegration of the euro,” Volcker, 82, said in a speech in London yesterday. “The essential element of discipline in economic policy and in fiscal policy that was hoped for” has “so far not been rewarded in some countries.” European leaders pledged a rescue package of almost $1 trillion this week to counter a mounting debt crisis and restore confidence in the currency. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said this week the euro may need a common fiscal policy to survive, a comment echoed by Norman Lamont, who was U.K. finance minister when Britain opted out from the euro in 1992.

“Will economic and financial distress finally be resolved by looking toward more integration in a closely integrated Europe, politically as well as economically?” said Volcker, who chairs President Barack Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. “I do have my hopes, as a believer in the euro.” The aid package also involved the European Central Bank, which intervened in debt markets after a rout in bonds across the euro region’s periphery. The European Commission in Brussels said it would “strengthen” its deficit oversight and “align national budget and policy planning” under a system of economic policy coordination.

Fiscal Union

“For the euro to be able to survive long term, fiscal consolidation of some kind — tax policy consolidation, fiscal policy consolidation — is probably necessary,” Snow said. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King also commented on the crisis, saying two days ago that it is “very clear” that the currency region needs a fiscal  

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