Brief on Italy: “Juncker’s polemics are useless”

The running war of words between Rome and Brussels continued on Monday with the Italian foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, dismissing criticisms made last week by Jean-Claude Juncker as “polemics that I consider useless,” according to the Turin daily La Stampa.

The European Commission president let loose at a new year’s news conference on Friday, denouncing Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi for repeatedly “demonising” Brussels. Ansa, the Italian news agency, reported that commission officials are becoming increasingly worried about the lack of communications channels with Rome. The FT’s Rome bureau chief James Politi has a look at the spat and notes Mr Renzi’s poll numbers have been dropping at a time when he faces two key electoral tests in 2016, including municipal elections. But James notes that after spending years repairing Italy’s EU reputation after Silvio Berlusconi’s premiership, Mr Renzi’s anti-EU (and anti-German) campaign runs considerable risks.

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