March 6 - The European Commission has put Italy on its watch list because of its very high public debt and weak competitiveness. Ciara Sutton looks at the impact that could have on Prime Minister Renzi's reform mission.
We're watching you - the European Commission's warning to Italy. It's concerned about weak competitiveness and a deficit of more than 130%. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER FOR ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS, OLLI REHN, SAYING ON ITALY: "We want to encourage the new Italian government to take rapid and effective action to unleash the formidable growth potential of Italy and at the same time address the issues of high-level of public debt in the country." The Commission conducted a review of 17 vulnerable economies in the EU. Italy, along with Croatia and Slovenia, have been told for take urgent action or face a fine For Italy's new Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, the heat is on. He seized leadership from Enrico Letta last month, promising to accelerate the pace of reform. Neil Umack is from Reuters Breakingviews. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS COLUMNIST, NEIL UMACK, SAYING: "He'll have done something and he'll be able to say he's passed a reform. If he hadn't done anything, Italy would probably be in a worse position. But the big criticism a lot of Italians have is the fact that he stole power in this backhand way by ousting his pre-decessor. Of course the ideal solution for him would be to have passed the electoral reform, go straight to elections and win a big majority. Then he could have vindicated his reform agenda. Now that's a lot harder for him to do." Renzi pledged this week to help create jobs, make housing more affordable and remodel crumbling school buildings. It's a tall order - Italy remains one of the worst-performing countries in the currency bloc, with stubbornly weak growth and unemployment at over 12 percent.