Italian leaders tell Brussels to back off as combative government is in sight

The League (Lega) party's leader Matteo Salvini addresses the media after a meeting with Italian President Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace, in Rome, Italy, 14 May 2018. (M5S) leader Di Maio said that neither he nor prospective right-wing Lega (League) party ally Salvini would put forward names of a Premier yet and asked for a few more days to complete a government programme EPA-EFE/RICCARDO ANTIMIANI

Italian leaders tell Brussels to back off as combative government is in sight


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The two main parties negotiating the formation of a government in Italy called on Brussels to stop interfering in the process.

The far-right leader of the Lega, Matteo Salvini, and the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), Luigi Di Maio, talked about EU “interference” on Tuesday.

Salvini accused Brussels of meddling with the negotiations following a statement by Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who expressed the hope that Italian policy on asylum seekers will not change.

  “From Europe we have the umpteenth unacceptable interference (…); now is the time for legality, security and push-backs,” Salvini said.

Avramopoulos praised Italy for the management of the Mediterranean migration crisis, crediting Italy with saving migrant lives at sea. Following an agreement with Libya, the flow of migrants from North Africa has slowed down, although human rights groups have expressed concerns over human rights abuses and torture. Salvini wants the policy line on migration to get tougher.

Di Maio charged against the Financial Times and unelected Eurocrats for undermining the prospect of an M5S-league government. “How dare you,” Di Maio said in reference to the FT’s branding of the emerging alliance as “new barbarians.” The 32-year old leader of M5S said the criticism was motivating him to move onwards with the formation of a government.

On Wednesday morning Salvini said that negotiations were nearing conclusion, while Di Maio confirmed the two parties could wrap up the “contract of government” within the day. Both parties have made clear they intend to fight the EU’s Stability Pact. However, Di Maio made clear that his party’s demand that the ECB writes off €250bn of the country’s national debt is outdated, while membership of the Eurozone is not called into question.

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