Rome and Brussels at odds ahead of referendum

In a referendum on December 4 Italy will vote on constitutional reform. This week Prime Minister Renzi described the EU Commission's austerity policy as suicidal for Italy after the Commission ruled that the country was in breach of the EU Stability Pact again. Should Brussels reach a compromise with Renzi so that he doesn't loose the referendum?

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La Stampa (IT) /

PM switches to bogeyman tactics

With his attacks against the EU Commission Renzi is changing his tactics ahead of the referendum at the start of December, La Stampa observes:

“The more measures Renzi has dreamt up to please the people, the less movement there has been in the polls. Pension hikes and Christmas bonuses for more than two million pensioners? Reduced tax penalties? … If these measures achieved anything at all the results aren't quantifiable. After two months of campaigning, the reserve of positive messages seems to be exhausted. Renzi's powers of persuasion seem to have lost their power and credibility. Could this be down to an overdose of optimism? Or a wave of antipathy towards Renzi? In anticipation of the concrete answers provided by the ballot box in the referendum the prime minister has made a decision. … He is turning the positive message into a challenge addressed to an enemy: egoistic and bureaucratic Europe.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

EU gives Renzi campaign gift

Renzi can benefit from conflict with the EU Commission - also because the Commission has no interest in fighting the dispute to the end, the Süddeutsche Zeitung notes:

“The Italian prime minister is using Juncker as a bogeyman to gather votes for his constitutional referendum in December. Brussels-bashing goes down well with voters. And Juncker also has a vested interest in Renzi winning the vote. So it's no wonder that the EU Commission has been so flexible in its interpretation of the Stability Pact criteria regarding Italy and that the pact's very credibility is now on the line. Even if Berlin is critical, those in power there know full well what Renzi is for the chancellor: an ally who - once he's won the referendum - will be second to none among the heads of state and government in his support for Europe. The EU needs someone like that in its tussles with the populists who are really attacking Brussels.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Brussels' stubbornness strengthening populists

If Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's referendum fails this will also be because of the many obstacles the EU has put in his path, The Irish Independent posits:

“The Italian election can be seen as yet another domino in a year of falling dominoes. First we had Brexit, then Trump, and the next big one for Europe after Italy is the potential rise of Le Pen in France. ... Mr Renzi, the EU's man, asked for looser fiscal rules, but Germany vetoed it. Mr Renzi asked to be allowed to bail out his bust banks, but Germany refused. Now Italy is about to embolden Ms Le Pen in France, and who is to blame? Clearly not the Italians who are expressing their democratic wish, but the EU officials who didn't listen to Mr Renzi, their Roman legate, when he looked for help.”