Thursday

19th Oct 2017

Renzi stirs up EU row ahead of eurozone meeting

  • Renzi has vowed to put an end to 'Brussels secrecy' on economic affairs (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Eurozone leaders are meeting on Friday (24 October) to discuss the issue of public deficits and debt, as France and Italy are in breach of the EU rules.

Ahead of the meeting, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi stirred up a row with outgoing EU commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, who criticised his decision to publish a commission letter warning him about the budget deficit.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  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.

Renzi said he could not understand Barroso's "surprise" about the published letter, given that the Financial Times and Italian media had already "anticipated" it.

"I think it's time for total and open transparency, the time has come to put an end to secret letters in this building. With Italy there will be total clarity about anything that comes from Brussels, because we think that's the only way to help citizens understand what is going on," Renzi told journalists on the margins of an EU summit.

The Italian prime minister noted that Barroso is ending his mandate next week and said he is sure incoming EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker "will be aware" of the need to boost transparency in EU institutions.

"I think we will not only publish all data, but also how much they spend in these buildings [EU institutions]. We are going to have some fun," he concluded.

On his Twitter page, Renzi also wrote that "we will publish all letters and above all, all economic data of Brussels institutions."

As for the issue of Italy being in breach of the three-percent deficit rule, Renzi said this was no big problem.

"We are discussing about one-two billions difference, we can add them even this morning. For a country that gives €20bn to Europe, with a total budget of €860 billion, the two billion that in theory could be necessary are a really tiny effort," he said.

Renzi said eurozone leaders will discuss who is making the political assessment as to when there are "exceptional conditions" which allow a country to be in breach of the deficit and debt rules and when there is a "significant deviation" which triggers the commission's punitive measures.

"We have to see if these evaluations are applied equally to all countries," Renzi said.

France downplays letter

While Italy's deviation from the deficit rules may still be fixed, the bigger problem is France's budget, forecasting a deficit of 4.3 of GDP for next year, when it was supposed to reach three percent.

Speaking on his way into the EU summit, French President Francois Hollande said he is "in dialogue" with the EU commission for weeks now and that "growth remains a priority".

"France will respect the rules with a maximum of flexibility," he said.

As to France's letter - similar to the one received by his Italian colleague - Hollande said it was "banal" and not worthy of being published.

This is only the second time since the EU commission scrutinises national budgets, as part of its new increased economic coordination powers.

How it will deal with France and Italy is a litmus test for the credibility of these rules, given that countries like Spain, Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Cyprus underwent austerity measures to get their deficits under control during the eurozone crisis.

Renzi continues row with new EU commission chief

Italy's PM Matteo Renzi has demanded "respect" for his country after new EU commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker criticised his and David Cameron's behaviour during an EU summit.

Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis

Spanish political leaders called on Catalan separatists to organise regional elections as a way to avoid emergency measures due to be taken on Thursday. That's "not on the table", a Catalan official replied.

Tusk summits to create new-model EU

Tusk has proposed a series of 13 top-level talks to take forward European reform, but his backing for a multi-speed Europe risks deepening divide.

News in Brief

  1. EU summit moved to previous building after fumes scare
  2. Catalonia will 'not back down'
  3. New toxic incident in EU building ahead of summit
  4. Murdered Malta journalist's family invited to Parliament
  5. EU food safety chief denies keeping studies 'secret'
  6. EU states pledge 24,000 resettlement places so far
  7. US ready for arms sale to update Greece's F-16 fleet
  8. Austria's Green leaders step down following election failure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EENorth Korea Leaves Europe No Choice, Says Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser
  2. Mission of China to the EUZhang Ming Appointed New Ambassador of the Mission of China to the EU
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU Should Seek Concrete Commitments From Azerbaijan at Human Rights Dialogue
  4. European Jewish CongressEJC Calls for New Austrian Government to Exclude Extremist Freedom Party
  5. CES - Silicones EuropeIn Healthcare, Silicones Are the Frontrunner. And That's a Good Thing!
  6. EU2017EEEuropean Space Week 2017 in Tallinn from November 3-9. Register Now!
  7. European Entrepreneurs CEA-PMEMobiliseSME Exchange Programme Open Doors for 400 Companies Across Europe
  8. CECEE-Privacy Regulation – Hands off M2M Communication!
  9. ILGA-EuropeHealth4LGBTI: Reducing Health Inequalities Experienced by LGBTI People
  10. EU2017EEEHealth: A Tool for More Equal Health
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Tourism a Key Driver for Job Creation and Enhanced Competitiveness
  12. CECENon-Harmonised Homologation of Mobile Machinery Costs € 90 Million per Year

Latest News

  1. EU okays Privacy Shield's first year
  2. EU seeks to decrypt messages in new anti-terror plan
  3. EU agencies defend research ahead of glyphosate vote
  4. Spain points at elections as exit to Catalan crisis
  5. How EU can ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia's legacy survives
  6. Juncker dinner to warm up relations with eastern EU
  7. Court hearing in MEPs 'private' expenses battle
  8. The unbearable lightness of leadership