Italian lawyer Gabriele Giambrone gives a brief review of the current situation in Italian law, politics and finance.

European Commission head Jose Manuel Barroso criticised Italy this week for publishing a letter from the EU requesting clarifications on the Italian rule-breaking budget that will come into effect from this coming year onwards. Matteo Renzi , the Italian Prime Minister, responded by announcing that he intended to make public the cost of the European institutions, palaces and Brussel's own inflated spending. With this response, he is questioning the European Union's authority to dictate rules to the Italian government in regard to budgeting. Mr Renzi has said in regard to the fears that Italy is the sick man of Europe that 'the Italian budget poses no problems.' In all fairness to Matteo Renzi, he is trying to do something that other Italian prime ministers have failed to do. Setting out just recently (Oct 7th) an employment bill that is intended to provide austerity measures that no one doubts Italy needs.

However is the EU right to have concerns over Italy and is enough being done to rectify Italy's problems? Key it seems to the debate is proposed changes to Italian legislation and Italian laws. Yet what is likely to change, when and will it make a difference?

The IMF forecast GDP growth in Italy to be –0.2% this year, sovereign debt is at €2.2 trillion (135% of GDP) and further risks of deflation (35%) could push this debt even higher. Over the past five years the Italian economy has shrunk by 9.1% and has been stagnant since 2000. It is against these figures that Matteo Renzi proposed the new employment bill. After a struggle in the upper house, with M5S senators throwing coins at the government benches, the bill was eventually passed with 165 in favour and 111 against and 26 PD senators putting their names to a document criticising the lack of detail in the bill.

According to Mr Renzi this employment bill is only the beginning of a whole series of structural reforms, due to be approved by Italian Lawyers in April 2nd 2015. The proposed changes to legislation put through the Senate help to improve the employment prospects of young people yet does not seem to go far enough on the fate of Articolo 18, which makes it very difficult to sack employees in companies that employ more than 15 people. Further to this the unions have promised to fight this all the way and with my knowledge of the Italian legal system I have doubts whether these reforms to Italian employment law will have the desired results, I think there is a long road ahead and having these reforms in place by April 2015 is highly unlikely. As well as this, in Italy companies get state money to keep workers rather than get rid of them, half a million workers are in 'cassa integrazione'. The new bill I dont not think will change things here, people have too much to lose with any drastic changes to the Italian legal system in matters of employment law. As well as this, in my opinion, a total reform of Italy's business rules and Italian tax system need to be made yet these changes will not effect these. Setting up a business in Italy is a very complex matter and according to the Sole 24 Ore newspaper, 'Italy has the heaviest 'total tax' burden on businesses in the world at 68 per cent.'

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