Italian PM Renzi tired of ‘wasting time’ at EU summits

On the eve of the Summit on migrations which is taking in place in New York at UN headquarters, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi stepped up his attacks against other European Union leaders on Sunday after an EU summit in Bratislava, which he said amounted to no more than “a nice cruise on the Danube.” In particular, he criticized the lack of commitments on the economy, Africa and immigration in the summit’s conclusions.

Matteo Renzi says he declined to share a podium with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande as he did not “share their conclusions” in the Slovak capital.

There has been minimal progress but the EU is still “far” from meeting the challenges it must address after Brexit, Renzi said.

“I don’t think it would be right for Italy to pretend not to notice when things are not getting any better,” the Italian Prime Minister said at a conference in Florence.

Hours earlier, he criticized the summit in an interview with TV broadcaster RTV38.

“As Italy, we strongly believe that the EU has a future, but we need to be doing things for real, because we have no use for staged events,” German broadcasting service Deutsche Welle quotes him as saying.

In particular, he criticized the lack of commitments on the economy, Africa and immigration in the summit’s conclusions.

Solutions to the migrant problem, identified at a summit in Malta earlier this year, “have remained a dead letter” and “we want to see facts on migrants”,Renzi told reporters.

The summit “was not a waste of time, but describing today’s document on migrants as a step forward requires an imagination worthy of ‘word jugglers’. The usual things were said again”.

In a fiery interview with daily Corriere della Sera on Sunday, Renzi – who has staked his career on a referendum this year on his plan for constitutional reform – intensified his criticisms, though he remained vague on what commitments he would have liked the summit to have produced.

“If we want to pass the afternoon writing documents without any soul or any horizon they can do it on their own,” Renzi said of his fellow leaders.

“I don’t know what Merkel is referring to when she talks about the ‘spirit of Bratislava’,” he said. “If things go on like this, instead of the spirit of Bratislava we’ll be talking about the ghost of Europe.”

“I’m not going to stay silent for the sake of a quiet life … if someone wants to keep Italy quiet they have picked the wrong place, the wrong method and the wrong subject.”

With polls showing the referendum too close to call, Renzi insisted he had “never been so optimistic” about its outcome. The ballot is expected to be held in late November or early December.

Sources: Africanews, Euractiv.com, Euronews