Rome (DPA): The European Union gives preferential treatment to Berlin at the expense of other member states, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi complained in an interview published in the Financial Times Tuesday.
Renzi spoke in the wake of clashes with Brussels over migration and austerity rules, and disagreements with Berlin over its plans to expand the Nord Stream gas pipeline with Russia and its opposition to a eurozone bank deposit insurance scheme.
“I have esteem for [German Chancellor] Angela [Merkel], we have an excellent personal relationship,” Renzi said in the interview. “But we have to be frank … Europe has to serve all 28 countries, not just one.”
Citing an EU investigation into Italy’s failure to fingerprint migrants, Renzi said: “Between July and August Germany took in migrants and didn’t take fingerprints because Merkel said ‘first solidarity then bureaucracy.’ What is valid for Italy has to be valid for Germany.”
The Italian premier said it would be unfair for the European Commission to approve the Nord Stream extension project when last year it effectively blocked South Stream, another Gazprom-backed pipeline that would have gone through Italy.
“I understand this is important business, fine, I’m not scandalized – but I want to say either the rules apply to everyone, or no one,” Renzi said.
Amid criticism that Italy’s budget for next year is too generous, and domestic controversy over the rescue of failed local banks, Renzi pointed to the instability of German savings banks and criticized Berlin’s economic policy.
“Germany has a trade surplus of 8 per cent, and the [eurozone] rules say it should be 6 per cent at most,” he said.