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Salvini says Italy will lead populist 'European spring'

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Salvini says Italy will lead populist 'European spring'
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini at a WWII memorial in Warsaw. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP
08:56 CET+01:00
Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on Wednesday said populists from Italy and Poland should spark a "European spring" to replace the centre-right influence of Germany and France, ahead of key EU elections.

Salvini was speaking in Warsaw following talks with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of the governing rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party, on May's European parliamentary elections. The vote could see nationalist and far-right parties across Europe upset the bloc's balance of power, which is currently dominated by the centre-right.

"We are preparing a new equilibrium and new energy in Europe and Poland and Italy, absolutely, will lead this new European spring," said Salvini. "We have a new plan for Europe" intended to replace the dominant "French-German axis," he said.

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Salvini's anti-immigration League party has ruled in coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement since a general election last March.

"I'm not sure whether we share a common destiny, but we are working on it," said Salvini. "The Franco-German axis may be replaced by an Italian-Polish axis."

"I'd like to create a pact, an alliance for everyone who wants to save Europe, the more of us, the better," Salvini said, adding that his party would draw up a ten-point plan to present to other EU countries.

"I don't have a crystal ball, but the goal is to become the second largest movement, maybe the first... in the next European Parliament elections," he added.


Salvini with Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski. Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP

Rome has had a series of disputes with Brussels, notably over its tough immigration policy and efforts to implement a big-spending budget to implement the ruling coalition's populist measures. Last month Italy passed a revised 2019 budget, watering down key measures to avoid being punished by the European Commission and financial markets.

Salvini said he had also held talks with PiS Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Earlier on Wednesday, Morawiecki said his government shared many of Salvini's criticisms of the EU, and he accused Brussels of discriminating against some countries.

"Different member states are treated quite differently in very similar situations, so this probably a definition of discrimination, isn't it?" Morawiecki told US broadcaster CNBC.

"One country has a budget deficit of 2.4 percent [Italy] and another country has a deficit exceeding 3 percent [France]... and they are treated differently because of some other aspects," he said, referring to the budget dispute between Brussels and Rome.

"There should not be this different treatment by Brussels," Morawiecki said. "So with Mr Salvini we are on the same page with regards to many European matters."

ANALYSIS: How EU founder member Italy went eurosceptic


Photo: Vasily Maximov/AFP

By AFP's Mary Sibierski

 
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