February 17, 2016 / 10:00 PM / in 2 years

Former Italy PM Monti chides incumbent Renzi for criticizing EU

Italy's former Prime Minister Mario Monti looks on during a coffee break at the annual Italian business and political conference in Cernobbio September 6, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

ROME (Reuters) - Former Italian prime minister Mario Monti on Wednesday warned current premier Matteo Renzi that his repeated criticism of Brussels risked alienating Italy from the bloc.

The rebuke from the respected economist and ex-European Union commissioner was unusual in Rome, where many blame EU austerity for holding back Italy’s recovery from three years of recession and the two largest opposition parties say they would scrap the euro.

“You do not miss a chance to disparage the processes that underpin the existence of the EU,” Monti said during a hearing in the Senate, where he is a lifetime member.

“This is producing an extremely dangerous alienation from the EU among Italians ... a very dangerous scorn for Europe, for the dream of Europe we would like to make reality.”

Renzi’s war of words with the EU in recent months has fed off anger at home over high joblessness, the struggle to manage an influx of migrants, and a bank rescue that wiped out thousands of people’s savings.

Addressing the Senate before heading to Brussels on Thursday for a summit, Renzi brushed aside Monti’s criticism of his relationship with the bloc.

“I don’t accept any lessons in following the rules,” Renzi said, saying the idea that Italy was incapable of progress had been promulgated during 20 years of inept government.

Renzi is head of the center-left Democratic Party (PD). Monti formed his own centrist party, Civic Choice, but stepped down and now has no party political role.

Reporting by Isla Binnie; editing by John Stonestreet

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