The situation surrounding Italy "must have become serious" for The European Union, because it appears EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is lying once again.
Juncker who in 2011, in the depths of the EU crisis, admitted "when it becomes serious, you have to lie" said this weekend that, while he had been tempted to intervene during the recent political impasse in Italy, he was determined not to feed the populist narrative: that the EU is meddling in domestic affairs.
As Giuseppe Conte was sworn in as Italian prime minister on Friday - after a last-ditch coalition deal between the two parties ended months of political deadlock and narrowly averted the need for a snap election in the eurozone’s third-largest economy - Juncker proclaimed:
“By keeping out of it, I’m not helping. By getting involved, I’m not helping. I am caught between a rock and a hard place.”
Throwing the new government in Rome an olive branch, saying that Brussels and “German-speaking countries” must not repeat the error made during the Greek crisis by reading stern lectures to the Italian people.
In an interview with German news service RedaktionsNetzwerk, Juncker admitted to “concern” about the recent developments in Italy, but insisted that the recent turmoil in the financial markets in response to the new government had been “irrational” and should not be seen as a guide to how the political story will unfold in Rome.
“I think very highly of President Mattarella, but I have not spoken to him during this crisis. I have not interfered, although I have been tempted to,” Juncker said.
“I do not want to feed the accusations spread by the populists that we are sitting in Brussels meddling in Italy’s affairs. I am certain the Italians have a keen sense of what is good for their country. They will sort it out.”
Juncker offered a more placatory tone, suggesting that Brussels and Berlin had learned the lessons of the Greek crisis. He also denied that the eurozone was set on a course for another economic downturn:
“The Italians cannot really complain about austerity measures from Brussels. However, I do not now want to lecture Rome. We must treat Italy with respect. Too many lectures were given to Greece in the past, in particular from German-speaking countries. This dealt a blow to the dignity of the Greek people. The same thing must not be allowed to happen to Italy.”
Juncker said that the financial markets’ reaction was “irrational”:
“People should not draw political conclusions from every fluctuation in the stock market. Investors have been wrong on so many occasions.”
But, as The Guardian reports, the commission president had flirted with danger on Thursday by suggesting that the EU should not...