Euro IMPLODES: Spanish debt SURGES as Juncker warns of ‘ZERO GROWTH for Italy’

EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker has criticised Italy’s government coalition by saying the country’s growth lags behind the rest of Europe and believes the state is headed for “zero growth” in 2019. Mr Juncker, the President of the European Commission, told Italian TV show Che Tempo Che Fa: “We believe that Italy’s growth will reach only 0.2 per cent, which is zero. That means Italy’s problems will continue to grow.”

He warned it is up to Rome to find the means to restart the country’s economy as soon as possible.

Speaking to Fabio Fazio, the TV show’s host, Mr Juncker said: “I think Italy knows its problems.

“Growth in Italy has lagged behind that of Europe for 20 years.”

But he conceded that to say the country’s economic problems is a risk for the world economy, as the International Monetary Fund has done, “is an exaggeration, despite the public debt being worrying”.

Italy’s public debt reached an all-time high of 2.35 trillion euros in November, over 133 per cent of the nation’s estimated output last year.

In February, Italy’s unemployment rate rose to 10.7 per cent, an increase of 0.1 points, according to the figures revealed by Istat.

Employment seekers rose by 1.2 per cent, the equivalent to 34,000 people, amounting to a total of 2,771,000 Italians who are actively looking for a job.

Youth unemployment, defined as those aged between 15-24, saw a slight decrease of 0.1 per cent compared to January.

But the figure still stands at 32.8 per cent, with many choosing to seek full-time employment elsewhere in Europe.

Italy’s unemployment rate is among the highest in the European Union, lower only than Greece and Spain at 18 and 13.9 per cent respectively.

The debt of Spain’s public administrations has increased by 29,563 million during 2018, reaching 1,173, 988 million, equivalent to 97.2 per cent of GDP.

The figures, reported by the Bank of Spain, reveal a decrease of nine tenths compared to 2017.

Among the institutions that has seen their debt grow the most is Social Security, whose liabilities reached 41,194 million, representing 3.4 per cent of GDP.

The Central State Administration accumulated most of the debt globally with 1,048,153 million euros, representing 86.7% of GDP, after adding 37,374 million more than at the end of 2017.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega