‘Italy’s new govt will pursue constructive EU role’

European Council's President-elect Charles Michel

Brussels,  Italy’s new left-leaning government “has a clear mandate” and intends to “play a constructive role within the European Union”, the European Council’s President-elect Charles Michel has said.

“I look forward to working closely with Italy and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to address common challenges.

“The new government in Italy has a clear mandate and is determined to play a constructive role within the European Union,” he said in a tweet.

Michel, who is Belgium’s Premier, had met Conte in Brussels on Wednesday during his first visit there since his pro-European coalition between the centre-left Democratic Party and the grassroots 5-Star Movement was approved by parliament earlier this week.

Conte also held talks in Brussels on Wednesday with European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament President David Sassoli.

In his talks with von der Leyen, Conte urged Brussels to allow Rome “a little bit of time” to cut its debt by investing in economic growth. But he vowed a “transparent” pact with the EU on Italy’s programme and pledged not to jeopardise financial stability.

In a Facebook post ahead of his visit, Conte said that reforming the EU’s budgetary and asylum rules, investment to boost growth and develop Italy’s south will be the country’s priorities during the next European Commission’s five-year period of office beginning in November.