Italians, Greeks skeptical over euro zone rescue plan

Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:07am EDT
 
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By Catherine Hornby

ROME (Reuters) - A deal struck by euro zone leaders on Thursday to contain the region's dangerous debt crisis was greeted skeptically in the two countries most in the firing line, Greece and Italy, with some saying politicians were dreaming.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi submitted an ambitious set of reforms intended to boost growth and cut debt as part of the deal, but analysts questioned the ability of his fractious coalition to implement the plan.

In Greece, opposition politicians and citizens feared further painful belt-tightening and years of recession, showing little enthusiasm for a plan for banks and insurers to accept a 50 percent loss on their Greek government bonds.

Berlusconi's pledges include raising the retirement age and making it easier for firms to lay off staff but few expect a scandal-ridden government with a poor track record of pushing through reforms to be able to do so while battling for survival.

"It's hard to believe that yesterday's intentions can really be transformed into the biggest plan of market reforms Italy has ever put on paper," Antonio Polito wrote in the Corriere della Sera daily, pointing to coalition tensions and lack of faith in the government.

An editorial in the left-leaning La Repubblica daily described the plan as a "book of dreams."

In a sign of the challenges Berlusconi faces, Italy's biggest trade union CGIL responded by pledging to fight the reform plans and called on smaller unions to unite against "targeted attacks" on Italian workers.

"We're ready to propose unified action," CGIL secretary Susanna Camusso told La Repubblica.   Continued...