Italy's PM Renzi vows to 'unblock Italy' with new series of reforms

TRENTO, Italy (AFP) - Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Sunday promised to "unblock Italy" with a new series of reforms designed to boost productivity and investments in the eurozone's third-largest economy.

"By the end of July I will bring in measures dubbed 'unblock Italy', which will allow people to get want they want done, and free up initiatives blocked for the past 40 years," he said at an economic conference in the northern Italian town of Trento.

The 39-year-old premier, who is riding high on a wave of popular support following his party's triumphant victory at the European elections last weekend, said he would ask Italy's mayors to flag up projects unable to get off the ground because of red tape problems.

Streamlining complicated authorisation procedures for foreign investors looking for opportunities in Italy would also do much to boost the economy, which is trying to shake off the worst recession in the post-war period, he said.

The aim is to create "within the next 10 years a smart Italy... an Italy which draws back the young who have gone abroad".

The former mayor of Florence, who has vowed to radically overhaul the way Italy is governed, has already approved a series of measures to boost growth, including cutting taxes on the middle class and reducing a company tax.

His centre-left Democratic Party (PD) won 40.8 per cent at last weekend's elections, giving it the highest number of MEPs among Europe's leftists.

But critics say he is falling behind on many promises, including vows to overhaul the public administration, the tax system and job sector.

Italy's economy unexpectedly moved back into negative territory in the first quarter due to poor industrial results, with data this month showing gross domestic product shrank by 0.1 per cent from the previous quarter, down 0.5 per cent from the same period last year.

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