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Italian business lobby in talks over potential gas rationing

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ROME — Italy’s main business lobby group Confindustria is in talks with the government about potential gas rationing, the head of the organization said on Monday.

The measures would be required to reduce risks linked to a total halt to Russian gas flows in the coming winter season, Confindustria’s Carlo Bonomi told a news conference in Rome.

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“We are trying to analyze how best to intervene in the event of rationing. We are working to make sure that nothing takes us by surprise,” he added.

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Italy, which has been reducing its reliance on Russian gas imports and building up storage levels, last week set out plans to lower consumption over the winter by turning down heating for public and private residential buldings.

Bonomi also said he sees scope for modifications to Italy’s EU-funded National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR).

Explaining the need for revisions, Bonomi said the plan was drafted before the Ukraine war exacerbated the energy crisis and turned it into “an economic earthquake.”

Giorgia Meloni, the frontrunner to become Italian prime minister after a national election on Sept. 25, has said that Italy should be able to amend the PNRR to ease pressures linked to surging energy prices.

Critics fear that radical changes could jeopardize up to 200 billion euros ($202.8 billion) of EU-funding for post-pandemic recovery.

Confindustria head Bonomi also said that European Central Bank increases to interest rates could worsen Italian public debt.

($1 = 0.9863 euros) (Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte Writing by Alvise Armellini and Keith Weir Editing by Federico Maccioni and David Goodman)

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