01/06/2012 12:41:00

Berlusconi Calls For Italy To Print Euros, Germany To Exit

ROME -(Dow Jones)- Italy should start printing fresh euros and Germany should leave the currency union, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Friday, MF-Dow Jones reported.

"Here's my crazy idea; Let's start printing euros ourselves," Mr Berlusconi told an assembly of his center-right People of Liberty party's parliamentary deputies.

"Germany should leave the euro if it doesn't agree with the European Central Bank serving as a lender of last resort," he added, MF-Dow Jones said.

If the ECB doesn't take on that role, Germany's role in Europe should be reviewed, he said.

Mr Berlusconi resigned last November to make way for a technocrat government led by former European commissioner Mario Monti. Senior officials in government and at Italy's central bank have since said the country risked being unable to pay state employees due to trouble issuing sovereign debt.

While no longer in power, Mr Berlusconi remains the founding leader of the party with the most parliamentary seats and hence his support for Mr Monti's government is considered crucial.

The current legislature is due to end in the spring of 2013.

Mr Berlusconi said he had no intention of being a candidate for prime minister or the head of state but that he was "at the service of his party as a coach."

Mr Berlusconi, owner of the AC Milan soccer team, has long called for the ECB to serve as a lender of last resort, shorthand for urging it to buy government debt when private investors will not.

Last summer he sought policy help from the ECB but was surprised to receive in exchange a letter from the central bank demanding that Italy speed up its budget consolidation, push through tough pension reforms and make it easier for companies to fire employees.

Unable to deliver on that agenda, Mr Berlusconi quickly lost his parliamentary majority and resigned.

-By Domenico Lofano and Eva Palumbo of MF-Dow Jones and Christopher Emsden, Dow Jones Newswires, +39 06 6976 6921;

chris.emsden@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 01, 2012 07:41 ET (11:41 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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