Wednesday

16th Aug 2017

Italy must back Renzi's reforms, Obama says

  • President Obama and prime minister Renzi with their wives, Michelle Obama and Agnese Landini. (Photo: Palazzo Chigi)

US president Barack Obama lauded Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi in the White House on Tuesday (19 October), ahead of a referendum that will be crucial for Renzi's political future.

"Look at him," Obama said of Renzi, speaking at a joint press conference.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"He's young, handsome. He's put forth a vision of progress that's not rooted in people's fears, but rather in their hopes,” the American said.

Tuesday’s official state dinner was the last to be hosted by Obama before he leaves the White House in January.

Renzi could also soon be without a job.

He has threatened to step down if he loses a 4 December vote on constitutional change.

The bill would limit the power of the Italian senate. Renzi said it would also make it easier for Italy to fight for reform of the EU.

The Italian prime minister would like to change EU budgetary rules, which make it difficult to pursue the type of expansive politics he thinks are needed to address his country’s sluggish growth.

Polls show a majority of Italians oppose Renzi’s proposal. Opposition parties say the bill is badly written and will put too much power in the government’s hands.

Obama threw his weight behind the proposal.

"The upcoming referendum to modernise Italy’s political institutions is something the United States strongly supports because we believe that it will help accelerate Italy’s path towards a more vibrant, dynamic economy, as well as a more responsive political system," the US president said.

He agreed the EU must shift away from austerity if it wants to relaunch economic growth and create jobs.

Obama added that Renzi, in his opinion, should stay in politics no matter what the outcome of the vote.

Both leaders stressed the importance of US-Italian relations and showed admiration for each other’s policies.

"I think Matteo embodies a new generation of leadership, not just for Italy but also for Europe," Obama said. He praised Italy’s efforts to save migrants in the Mediterranean sea and fight against the Islamic State.

Italy has the second largest number of troops in Iraq, after the US.

Renzi also highlighted Obama’s merits.

“Many people think politics is only about screaming and fighting each other, creating hate and division,” Renzi said.

”You are different, Mr President. We are different,” he said.

Analysis

Renzi's EU attacks are survival strategy

Faced with a difficult referendum campaign, the Italian prime minister is playing the antiestablishment card, including verbal attacks on the EU and Germany.

Agenda

Obama visits EU This Week

The US election, wide-ranging security concerns, and the EU budget dominate the agenda this week.

Countdown to Italy's future

The long-running campaign for Sunday's referendum has wrapped up, but market jitters and the rise of euroscepticism risks Italy's shaky post-recession growth.

Italy referendum spooks eurozone

Prime minister Matteo Renzi's resignation, followed by a crushing rejection of his reforms, has sent the euro plunging against the dollar and put the country's fragile banking system at risk.

News in Brief

  1. Russian power most feared in Europe
  2. UK unemployment lowest since 1975
  3. Europe facing 'explosive cocktail' in its backyard, report warns
  4. Danish police to investigate misuse of EU fishing rules
  5. German constitutional court questions ECB's €2tn spending
  6. Low support for Norway's labour party ahead of elections
  7. Slovakia's future is with core EU, says PM
  8. Italy relieved as migration drops to lowest level since 2014

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  2. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  3. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  5. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  6. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  8. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  9. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  10. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  11. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  12. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey