Economists said a Monday meeting of EU finance ministers calmed worries about Italy's national debt. At 120 per cent of GDP, Italy's debt is double that required by the Maastricht criteria.
Ministers made favourable remarks about Italy's economy in an effort to repair any damage caused by negative remarks from the Netherlands. The Netherlands government had questioned Italy's ability to stay within the Maastricht rules.
Hans Tietmeyer, chairman of the Bundesbank, moved to quell speculation he was opposed to Italy's entry. Last weekend, in an interview with the German magazine Focus, he expressed doubts about the suitability of "high- debt" countries. He later said he had no specific country in mind.
Julian Jessop, economist a Nikko Europe, said the euro currency would be undermined if politicians ignored the evidence about Italy.
- Andrew Verity