EU summit no more than ‘a nice cruise on the Danube’, says Matteo Renzi

Italian prime minister criticises lack of commitments on economy and immigration

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".

Renzi said at the end of Friday's summit that he was dissatisfied with its closing statement, after he was excluded from a joint news conference by German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande.

In particular, he criticised the lack of commitments on the economy and immigration in the summit’s conclusions, which he himself signed.

In a fiery interview in the newspaper 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.


"If we want to pass the afternoon writing documents without any soul or any horizon, they can do it on their own," Renzi said. "I don't know what Merkel is referring to when she talks about the 'spirit of Bratislava'. If things go on like this, instead of the spirit of Bratislava we'll be talking about the ghost of Europe. "

Renzi has promised to resign if he loses the autumn referendum and is preparing a 2017 budget which he says will cut taxes despite a slowing economy and record high public debt.

“At Bratislava we had a nice cruise on the Danube, but I hoped for answers to the crisis caused by Brexit, not just to go on a boat trip,” he said.

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.

– Reuters