Tuesday 29 May 2018 4:41 pm

Donald Tusk slaps down EU commissioner after Italy comments

European Council President Donald Tusk has slapped down one of the bloc's commissioners for suggesting that Italian voters may be pressured into changing their minds by market movements.

Markets across Europe were in flux today, with the so-called fear index the Vix up 17 per cent on the back of political uncertainty unfolding in Italy and Spain.

Main markets, including the FTSE 100, the Cac and the Dax fell while Italian bold yields rose. The country's two year bold broke through the one per cent barrier for the first time since 2014, reaching 1.273 per cent, while 10-year debt hit a fresh high of 2.787 per cent.

EU budget commissioner Günther Oettinger suggested that if this continued, voters might stop backing anti-establishment parties such as Five Star or the Northern League.

He told Deutsche Welle​: "My concern and expectation is that the coming weeks will show that developments in Italy's markets, bonds and economy will become so far-reaching that it might become a signal to voters after all to not vote for populists on the right and left.

"That has to do with the possible government formation. I can only hope that this will play a role in the election campaign and send a signal not to hand populists on the right and left any responsibility in government."

An earlier translation of Oettinger's comments suggested he had gone even further, saying markets will "teach the Italians to vote for the right thing", but the journalist deleted this, later explaining he had "misquoted" the commissioner.

However that didn't stop Tusk intervening over his colleague's comments, which have provoked outrage from commentators who interpreted them as proof of elites trying to impose their will on the people.

The European Council President tweeted: "My appeal to all EU institutions: please respect the voters. We are there to serve them, not to lecture them."


My appeal to all EU institutions: please respect the voters. We are there to serve them, not to lecture them. #Italy @dwnews

— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) May 29, 2018