Rome (Italy) - Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) was flat in the second quarter of 2016 with respect to the previous three months and up 0.7% compared to the same period last year, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data released by Istat on Friday. The Italian economy returned to positive growth in 2015, with an 0.8% rise in GDP, after years of recession.
But Friday's figures seem to confirm fears that the recovery is fragile.
The national statistics said Italy's annual GDP growth for 2016 would be 0.6% if quarter-on-quarter GDP were flat for the rest of the year too.
Opposition groups said Friday that data showing that Italy's economic growth halted in the second quarter and the public had debt reached a new record high in June proved that the economic policies of Premier Matteo Renzi's government were failing.
"You can see why Renzi prefers to talk about institutional reforms and focus attention on his political future," said the Lower House and Senate speakers of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), Laura Castelli and Stefano Lucidi, referring to the referendum on the government's overhaul of Italy's political machinery - Renzi has said he will quit if the no vote prevails.
"It's a desperate strategy to hide his tragic economic failures, which mean millions of people and families are having to get used to poverty".
Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) also went on the offensive.
"It's a shower of bad news for Renzi," said FI's House whip Renato Brunetta.
"The Bank of Italy and Istat have sounded the government's funeral, above all regarding public debt - a new record in June that belies Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan repeated claims that it is coming down.
"Denying the obvious has become a consolidated practice for this government". Renzi's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) said international factors including the Brexit and the recent spate of terror attacks had contributed to the flat growth.
PD Senator Claudio Moscardelli said he was hopeful the economy would get back to positive growth in the third quarter.
"The reforms being carried out (by the government), the economic measures adopted with the last budget law and the new ones that will soon be approved on investments, productivity, lower taxes and boosting household incomes will provide a driver for greater growth," he said. (Ansa)