(Adds Renzi comment, background)
ROME, July 4 Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
said on Friday that there was no rift between Rome and Berlin
over European fiscal policy and that Germany's central bank
should not comment on Italian government policies.
"I haven't seen any polemic with German politicians," Renzi
said at a news conference to launch Italy's 6-month presidency
of the European Union, when asked to comment on reports of a
rift with Germany over the scope for budget flexibility.
"If you are referring to the comments of some German
banker," Renzi continued, "the Bundesbank's job is to ensure
respect of its statutes, not to participate in Italy's political
He added that "Europe belongs to its citizens, not to
bankers, either Italian ones or German ones."
On Thursday Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said Italy should
complete structural reforms before calling for increased budget
Renzi, speaking at a joint news conference with outgoing
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, said he had
an "excellent" relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
and he had "very much appreciated" comments by her spokesman
earlier on Friday.
Italy, which is pushing for greater flexibility in European
budget rules to allow it to spend more, has the second-highest
public debt in the euro zone as a proportion of national output,
Renzi, who came to office in February, has an ambitious
agenda of political and economic reform, including changing
Italy's electoral law, abolishing the upper house Senate as an
elected chamber, and simplifying labour market rules.
However, so far he has made little progress in turning his
plans into approved legislation, and none of his reforms have
Renzi, whose Democratic Party won a resounding victory in
elections for the European Parliament in May, has repeatedly
called for a shift towards more growth oriented policies in the
"In Europe the rules must regard stability but also growth,"
Renzi said. "The moment we only discuss stability we are
destroying a piece of our future."
(Reporting by Luke Baker and Gavin Jones; Editing by Hugh