Business, Finance & Economics

Italy's Monti in crisis talks with Sarkozy, Merkel


Italy's former EU commissioner Mario Monti, tipped to replace outgoing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, arrives at the Senate in Rome, on November 11, 2011.


Andrea Solaro

PARIS -- The Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti is to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday for the first time since he took office.

Read more on GlobalPost: Italy's new PM Monti in talks with main parties as cost of bonds rises

The meeting, in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, comes as France pressured Germany to allow the European Central Bank (ECB) to become the lender of last resort to euro zone member states, Agence France Presse reported.

Speaking to France Info radio, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe repeated calls for the Frankfurt-based ECB to play a central role in resolving the crisis:

"It is urgent. The situation is serious. We must not underestimate its gravity. It touches even the most solid economies.”

While French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has dubbed the Strasbourg meeting “very important", Monti referred to them as an “informal working visit", adding that there was no fixed agenda, AFP reported.

Both Italy, and the director of the Bank of Italy, Fabrizio Saccomanni, have complained that France and Germany have dominated the handling of the euro zone crisis.

Monti, a former EU commissioner, is reportedly calling for a broader European response.

Thursday’s meeting also comes amid a disagreement by France and Germany over the use of joint Eurobonds, being promoted by the head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, the BBC reported.

From a total of 6 billion euros worth of its 10-year bonds on offer Wednesday, Germany sold just 3.6 billion euros ($4.8 billion).

With weak demand for bonds from Germany, the euro zone’s largest economy, and amid low investor confidence, the ECB is feeling the pressure to act, the Financial Times reported.