The European Union cannot keep holding meaningless summits that take no real decisions, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Saturday, a day after blasting the bloc's latest get-together.
On Friday, EU leaders in Bratislava, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, attempted to put up a show of unity and resolve after Britain's decision to leave the bloc. Renzi dismissed the meeting as producing little more than platitudes.
"As Italy, we strongly believe that the EU has a future but we need to be doing things for real, because we have no use for staged events," Renzi told local TV broadcaster RTV38, in an interview to be aired later Saturday.
Italian news agencies, including ANSA, published advance extracts.
"Bratislava was meant to be a great restart [for the EU] but instead it ended with a watered down document. We have the Rome summit in March 2017, so we have a crucial six months to do a huge job, we can't continue putting up the same show that does not change anything," the Italian leader said.
With Italy having become the main landing point for Europe-bound sea migrants, Renzi complained that his country had been "left holding the short end of the stick," and said the EU needed an Africa plan to stop people emigrating from there.
He also said he would insist on the EU allowing Rome to derogate from budget discipline targets to invest in the earthquake resilience of Italian schools. Last month a 6-magnitude quake destroyed three towns in central Italy, killing almost 300.
Renzi is under pressure ahead of a referendum on constitutional reforms expected to be held in November or December. He has pledged to leave politics if they are rejected, and opinion polls suggest the outcome is uncertain.
The Rome government should propose a referendum date on September 26.
Some have interpreted Renzi's outburst against the EU as posturing to please Italian voters, who, following a record recession aggravated by Brussels-prescribed austerity policies, have in recent years turned increasingly eurosceptic.
Filippo Busin, a lawmaker from the hard-right opposition Northern League, questioned the sincerity of premier's toughening stance. "We would like to ask what changed yesterday compared to late June. The only thing is that the referendum is getting closer," he said.