Renzi 'not satisfied' by EU summit

Declines to share podium with Merkel, Hollande

(ANSA) - Rome, September 16 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Friday said he was "not satisfied" by the first EU summit since Brexit and had declined to share a podium with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande since he did not "share their conclusions" in Bratislava.
    Saying the summit had voiced the usual nostrums, Renzi stressed that there had been no step forwards on migration, one of the two key topics on the agenda along with growth in a post-Brexit world.
    Renzi said that he was "not satisfied with the conclusions on growth and immigration" and therefore could not share the press conference held by Merkel and Hollande.
    He said "this is not a polemical fact".
    There had been minimal progress but the EU is still "far" from meeting the challenges it must address after Brexit, Renzi said.
    The EU's austerity policy clearly "hasn't worked", Renzi said, stressing the need for new approaches to try and stoke growth across the bloc.
    Migrant solutions identified at a Malta summit earlier this year "have remained a dead letter" and "we want to see facts on migrants," Renzi said. He said "we are doing our bit (on migrants) and we are ready to do so alone if necessary".
    The summit "was not a waste of time, but describing today's document on migrants as a step forward requires an imagination" worthy of "word jugglers", Renzi said. "The usual things were said again," he said.
    "Clear choices" must now be made in the run-up to a "key" EU summit in Rome in March "if we want to be able to give responses to meet the challenges that have come with Brexit," Renzi said.
    Renzi said Italy is working to build consensus in the EU and not on a blocking minority.
    The premier said Rome wanted to promote an idea of Europe that "invests in growth, not austerity", citing an earlier meeting on the Italian island of Ventotene with Merkel and Hollande to chart a post-Brexit course.
    Renzi had another dig at Germany's economic policy, saying that "just as there are countries which must respect the deficit rules, in the same way other rules must be respected, such as the one on the trade surplus. "And there are certain countries that don't respect it, the main one is Germany".
    In other points, Renzi said that the EU cannot "prevent me from intervening in school construction". Merkel and Hollande's press conference was a more sedate affair.
    Merkel said the summit had "agreed on the agenda and the working plan" going forward to address issues like migration, where "the aim is to stop irregular immigration". Flanked by Hollande, she said the "spirit of Bratislava is cooperation".
    Hollande stressed that "security above all means the protection of our frontiers".
    The final statement from the summit, the Bratislava Statement, said that "although one country has decided to leave it, the European Union remains indispensable". It said "the EU is not perfect but it is the best instrument" to face new challenges. The EU said "we need to improve communications between us, member States, with the European institutions, but still more with the citizens" and "focus" on their expectations "with courage to address the simplistic solutions of extremist and populist forces".