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Rome

Govt team completed with undersecretaries

M5S has 6 deputy ministers to PD's four, Conte says 'important'

Govt team completed with undersecretaries

Rome, September 13 - The government on Friday named 42 undersecretaries ending days of sometimes heated discussions, completing the government team. Senior government partner the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) gets 21 undersecretaries while junior partner the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) gets 18, government sources said. The other government components, the tiny leftwing Free and Equal (LeU) party and the Italians abroad group MAIE get two and one respectively. The M5S will also have an advantage in terms of deputy ministers with six compared to the PD's four. Only 14 of the 42 are women. Government sources voiced satisfaction that an agreement had been found on the undersecretaries. Both the M5S and the PD said they were satisfied with the number of officials they had obtained. "Now we're ready to give our utmost," said M5S leader and Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. "The government team is complete, ready to give its all for the country!," he said. "On Monday the new team will be sworn in which will be composed of 21 exponents of the 5-Star Movement, and six of these will be deputy ministers. For us that means: a lot of work to do and greater responsibility. We are ready!" Premier Giuseppe Conte said "the acceleration on the government team is important because the country is awaiting responses. "This team is sufficiently young and amalgamated", said the premier who confirmed "the new team will be sworn on Monday". "It's a great team, built to last," said Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora. But anti-migrant Euroskeptic League party leader Matteo Salvini said "we've seen a disgraceful divvying up of seats by the M5S and the PD". Also on Friday, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said Italy is a protagonist in Europe again thanks to the new government. Italy has just formed an unprecedented alliance between the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left and pro-EU Democratic Party (PD), of which Gualtieri was an MEP for several years before being named economy minister in the new M5S-PD executive. With this government, Gualtieri said, "Italy returns to being a protagonist in Europe, resumes the role that it is entitled to as a founder member (of the EU) which has ideas, imposes its vision of the EU as a path to improve, change, and make it more capable of facing the challenges of our world". The new government has said, among other things, that it will try to change the Stability and Growth Pact, as President Sergio Mattarella also hoped in helping set up the M5S-PD coalition. "Today we will present the government programme as illustrated in parliament by Premier (Giuseppe) Conte," Gualtieri went on. The programme includes averting a 23-billion-euro VAT hike, cutting the tax wedge for low-to-medium earners, free nurseries for low-to-medium income families, and trying to get investments in the green economy excluded from EU fiscal parameters. Gualtieri said Friday, however, that the 2020 budget and excluding green investments had "different timescales," with the first obviously taking precedence over the second. "The reform of monetary union is on a separate plane from the 2020 budget bill," he said. Gualtieri stressed, however, that the time of "clashes" with Europe, like those under former interior minister and Euroskeptic League party leader Matteo Salvini, was "over". Salvini, who pulled the plug on an M5S-League government August 8 hoping for a snap election to capitalise on high poll numbers and never thinking the M5S would get together with traditional foe the PD, had frequent run-ins over EU fiscal constraints. In an interview with La Repubblica daily, Gualtieri said "there will never be wars with Europe again". He also said the flat tax pledged by the League would be shelved, the quota 100 pension reform would run its course in three years, and a basic income would be improved. Gualtieri also vowed that the VAT hike would not happen, with an "unprecedented" crackdown on tax evasion helping to get the 23 billion euros needed to fund its exclusion. The minister also announced that Italy will join the pro-climate coalition. In Helsinki, he announced that Rome was joining the coalition of financial ministers for the fight against climate change. This is a change, since Italy had thus far chosen not to take part in the initiative, which is made up of 40 countries. The aim of the coalition is to boost green investments. Eurogroup President Mario Centeno said that Gualtieri had reiterated Italy's pro-euro commitment at an informal Eurogroup meeting. Gualtieri, he said, had outlined "the priorities for the near future and the commitment on policies that help preserve the stability of the euro". He said "Roberto is not new to the group, seeing as how he frequented it already before, in his capacity as chair of the economy committee. "Today was not the day to discuss his presentation in detail. The Italian dossier "will return to the fore in the context of the stability bills, together with those of all the other countries", said the Portuguese finance minister.

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