Matteo Salvini, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior of Italy, has accused senior EU figures of having “ruined Europe”.
Salvini, who has been vocal about his belief that European elites are attempting to replace native Italians with immigrants for undeclared reasons, singled out European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici in his criticism of European financial restrictions.
Speaking to reporters in Rome, Salvini alleged economic decisions made by the EU had “wrecked” Europe; and that “people like Juncker and Moscovici” were not interested in Italian concerns.
On being asked about Salvini’s comments by reporters in Vienna, Juncker said he hoped the deputy PM would not be left “in the situation of having to pick up a pile of rubble.”
Italian borrowing has roughly doubled since the formation of the coalition government in spring. Its public debt is over €2.2 trillion, 132 per cent of its GDP. Italy has one of the slowest economic growth rates in Europe.
Italy has been working towards a deficit arrangement with the EU for their 2019 budget, which has led to tension between Salvini and Juncker as Italy’s coalition government struggled to agree on a deficit that would allow them to achieve their campaign promises. This latest outburst from the minister, who called Juncker a drunk earlier this week, follows ongoing tension between Rome and Brussels over both the budget and Italy’s increasingly hard line on migration.
Juncker had expressed concern over Italy’s borrowing habits, suggesting it risked becoming “the next Greece”. Moscovici had previously annoyed Salvini by alluding to his nationalist Lega party as “small Mussolinis”.
Salvini, a supporter of Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump, is a member of prominent white nationalist Steve Bannon’s European project, Movement. Bannon in turn has praised Italy’s coalition government, calling Rome the “centre of the political universe” and Salvini a “true disruptor”.