Merkel to meet with Renzi in attempt to ease Berlin, Rome tensions

Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes talks set down for next week with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi will help to ease the tensions that have emerged between Berlin and Rome, a spokeswoman for the German leader said on Friday.

Renzi has emerged as a major critic of European policy areas including migration, banking and budget, lashing out in particular at the fiscal austerity spearheaded by Merkel as a way of overcoming the region's debt crisis.

The German chancellor "was not optimistic that all the issues could be resolved and differences of opinion laid aside," her spokeswoman Christiane Wirtz said.

But Wirtz added "that it was good that the two will be speaking together to find solutions to the points where they disagree."

"Europe has to serve all 28 countries, not just one," Renzi said in an interview last month with the Financial Times.

Wirtz said that the two leaders, who are due to meet in Berlin next Friday, would speak about a range of themes without providing any details.

As part of his criticism of European policy, Renzi has called for more flexibility in the implementation of the strict fiscal rules for euro member states.

Italy is also a frontline state in Europe's refugee crisis with the nation often the first port of call for thousands of would-be ayslum seekers making the often perilous journey to a new life in Europe.

Rome wants the EU to abandon the rule that refugees have to lodge their asylum claims in the first European state they enter.

Last update: Fri, 22/01/2016 - 15:40

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