EU official's remarks stir Italian political storm
MILAN (AP) - A European official's criticism of former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's response to the 2011 economic crisis has spurred allegations of defamation from Berlusconi backers and rare public discord within the European Commission.
Mr Olli Rehn, the European monetary affairs commissioner, told the European Parliament on Tuesday that Mr Berlusconi did not "respect commitments" to get Italy's fiscal house in order as Italian borrowing costs rose to dangerous levels in the fall of 2011.
Mr Berlusconi resigned as premier in November 2011 under market pressure, making way for Mr Mario Monti's technical government.
Mr Berlusconi's actions "led to a drying out of lending, which suffocated economic growth and led to a political dead-end in Italy and the formation of the new government of Mr Mario Monti, which then later on was able to stabilise the situation," Mr Rehn told the European Parliament on Tuesday. "This is clearly an example of the confidence effect in play."