Renzi criticises head of Bundesbank

Bank should not get involved in politics, says Italian prime minister

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi (centre) with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso (left) and members of the EU commission following a meeting in Rome yesterday. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi (centre) with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso (left) and members of the EU commission following a meeting in Rome yesterday. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

Sat, Jul 5, 2014, 01:05

Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has criticised the head of the German central bank, Jens Weidmann, saying the Bundesbank should not get involved in domestic politics.

“I believe the Bundesbank has a task, and that is the fulfilment of its statutory goals,” Mr Renzi said in Rome yesterday following a meeting with European Commission president José Manuel Barroso and EU commissioners. “Its role is not to get involved in Italian political debate . . . just as I don’t talk about the Sparkassen, or the Landesbanken, I don’t expect the Bundesbank to talk about Italian politics.”

The comments from the 39-year-old followed remarks by Mr Weidmann on Thursday night in which he criticised Italy’s request for further flexibility from Brussels.

Specifically referencing Mr Renzi in a speech to members of Angela Merkel’s CDU party, Mr Weidmann recalled the Italian prime minister’s description of the EU as a “boring old aunt” in a speech to the Italian parliament last month, criticising Mr Renzi for merely “announcing” reforms rather than showing how he would implement them.

Mr Renzi yesterday reiterated his call for emphasis on the “growth” element of the Stability and Growth Pact, saying that just as there is “no growth without stability, there is no stability without growth”.

He said Italy’s 1,000-day reform plan announced last month would represent “the reform of Italy”.

Among the areas to be reformed would be the tax system, the judicial system as well as electoral law and the civil service.

“Through these 100 days Italy will reform itself. It will do so by implementing those reforms that are needed by Italian citizens and that have also been recommended specifically by the commission.”

Mr Renzi is due to unveil details of his planned economic reform agenda in September.

‘Strong Italy’

At a press conference with Mr Renzi, outgoing European Commission chief Mr Barroso said it was vital for the EU to have “a strong Italy”.

“Even if there was no European Commission, even if there was no European Union, I am sure Italy would have to make this kind of reforms . . . it is not because the European Union is imposing some kind of things. That is a mistake.

“It is because we need, our countries need to become more competitive in century of globalisation.”

Mr Renzi said tackling migration would be one of Italy’s priorities during its presidency of the Council of the European Union, with Libya a particular focus. “Our foremost goal is to assist the Libyan authorities at all levels to help them implement the results of the election of June 25th and to enable the new government as soon it is formed to request the assistance of the UNHCR,” he said, adding that this would allow the High Commissioner for Refugees to visit Libya and engage with authorities.

He called on the EU to pledge more money for border control agency Frontex, saying the image of women and children dying in boats was something “no civilised nation” could tolerate.