• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Italy PM likens EU to 'orchestra on the Titanic'
Matteo Renzi with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in late January. Photo: John MacDougall/AFP

Italy PM likens EU to 'orchestra on the Titanic'

AFP · 10 Feb 2016, 13:28

Published: 10 Feb 2016 13:28 GMT+01:00

The outspoken leader, who has clashed with EU officials over budget rules and other issues, made the comment in an interview published the day after Rome launched a push for the EU to adopt a two-speed approach to its future development.

"The EU is like the orchestra playing on the Titanic," Renzi told Bloomberg, insisting his revitalized and reformed Italy had earned the right to play a leading role in shaping the bloc's destiny.

"Today we have done reforms and we are in a position to say to EU partners: 'friends, we can change this wrong, bureaucratic approach.'"

Renzi has notably clashed with Brussels over Rome's demands for leeway on the EU's Stability Pact budget rules to allow him to revive the struggling Italian economy with tax cuts and growth-orientated spending.

Behind the technical debate over whether costs for one-off structural reforms or dealing with the migration crisis can be discounted from the calculation of deficit levels, lies a fundamental difference of economic philosophy.

Renzi has often referred to the German-inspired Stability Pact as the "Stupidity Pact".

The 41-year-old former mayor of Florence insists he is a Europhile but he often sounds like a Eurosceptic as he rails against Brussels "technocrats" or the failure of the EU to act decisively over the migrant crisis or the chaos in Libya.

He has challenged France over temporary border closures linked to migrant flows, Germany over a major gas pipeline project and fought the European Commission over the consolidation of bad debts by Italy's banks as well as budget issues.

In a reflection of Italy's more active diplomacy, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni on Tuesday hosted a dinner for his counterparts from the bloc's six founding member states.

Billed as the start of a reflection on the EU's future, the ministers endorsed a statement reiterating their commitment to "ever closer union" while signalling that not all member states would be expected to pursue the goal.

Story continues below…

Britain has demanded an opt out from the "ever closer" principle written into EU treaties as part of a package of reforms it wants agreed before holding an in-out referendum on its membership.

Prime Minister David Cameron is hoping to tie down a deal at an EU summit in Brussels on February 18th-19th.

Italy has backed Britain's right to opt out of any further pooling of sovereignty. That stance was reflected in a clause in Tuesday's Italian-drafted statement which said the EU "allows for different paths of integration."

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Italy has Europe's oldest population: Eurostat
Italy is home to the highest proportion of over-80-year-olds in the EU. File photo: Pexels

13 of every 200 people in Italy are aged over 80 - the highest proportion in the EU.

Italy police get lunch for poor woman 'forced to steal food'
The stolen goods only amounted to €14. File photo: Pexels

The woman had stolen food worth €14 from a supermarket.

Renzi: UK won't get special treatment post-Brexit
The UK can't expect an easy ride post-Brexit, Renzi warned. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Italian PM Matteo Renzi said the UK won't get more rights than other countries outside the EU after voting to leave the bloc.

Looters steal computers from quake town's new school
Almost a third of the schools in the area are now unusable. The above photo is of a school in Amatrice: AFP

The school had only been opened two weeks ago, after the town's existing two schools were left unusable by the earthquake.

Here's what Americans in Italy think about the US elections
The candidates shake hands before the debate. Photo: AFP

Four American expat voters from across the political spectrum talk about the issues which influenced their vote, and how it feels watching the elections from Italy.

Italy scraps bid to host 2023 Rugby World Cup
Italy's rugby team at the Six Nations earlier this year. Photo: AFP

The move is a result of Rome's decision not to bid for the 2024 Olympics.

Italy's migrant centres in crisis amid money worries
A man and his daughter in a Sardinian centre for refugees. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The centres are fuller than ever - but the government has stopped paying.

Berlusconi at 80: My regrets and future plans
Berlusconi turns 80 on Thursday. Photo: AFP

"Politics was never really my passion," says Italy's longest-serving post-war premier.

Italy 'held naval manoeuvres with Iran' in strategic strait
The Strait of Hormuz. File photo: AFP

The Italian ambassador called the port call "a positive sign".

Northern Italian region approves 'anti-mosque' laws
One of Italy's few purpose-built mosques, in Rome. File photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Similar laws in other regions have been scrapped for being anti-constitutional.

Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
Culture
Eight things you should know about Rome's Spanish Steps
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The incredible hero dogs of Italy’s earthquake
National
Why quake-hit Amatrice will never be the same again
National
Why discontented Italians could derail their economy
Society
Keep passports safe: Typical pickpocket scams revealed
Culture
Why coffee in Italy is a culture you must taste to understand
Society
The richest families in Florence in 1427 are still rich today
Culture
So why do pasta-loving Italians live such long lives?
National
Italy's Renzi prepares for stormy autumn
Society
This 104-year-old just saw the sea for the first time
National
Should Rome give up on its 2024 Olympic dream?
Society
The Italian doctor giving hope to thousands of migrants
Culture
Ten 'Italian' dishes that don't actually exist in Italy
Sport
Five Italian athletes going for gold at the Rio Olympics
Travel
Trastevere: From a fiery past to Rome’s souvenir stand
Politics
Think Trump would be a disaster? Just ask the Italians
National
How Brexit has helped to expose Italy’s banking malaise
Politics
After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Lifestyle
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
National
Why Milan could be Europe's post-Brexit financial hub
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
2,524
jobs available