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Italy’s prime minister likens EU situation to sinking ship

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (AFP)

Italy’s prime minister says the situation of the European Union resembles a sinking ship and the leadership of the continental bloc keeps ignoring the growing demands for change.

“The EU is like the orchestra playing on the Titanic,” Matteo Renzi said Wednesday, referring to the giant British vessel which sank in the North Atlantic in the early 20th century with the famous music band on the deck keeping on playing until they drowned.

“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 stated.

On Tuesday, the Italian government urged the EU to adopt a two-speed approach to its future development.

The administration of Renzi and the EU leadership in Brussels have been at odds over demands by the Italian government for leeway on the budget rules of the EU Stability and Growth Pact to allow Rome to revive Italy’s economy with tax cuts and growth-orientated spending.

Renzi has described the German-inspired package the “Stupidity Pact.”

The 41-year-old former mayor of Florence has also lashed out in several occasions at Brussels over its failure to act decisively over the refugee crisis or the conflict in Libya, saying the “technocrats” in the European Union are ruining the aspirations of the bloc.

The Italian premier believes he is a Europhile, but his continued criticism of major EU powers such as France and Germany has made many believe that Renzi is a Eurosceptic.

Italy has also supported demands by Britain to opt out of the EU’s so-called ever-closer principle written in the EU treaties.

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.


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