Since the new Italian government assumed power, EU President Jean-Claude Juncker seems to have taken a position of respectful distance. He says he does not want to see a repeat of the situation with Greece.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker appeared to backtrack on Saturday, after telling Italians they should work harder and stop blaming the EU for their country's problems on Thursday.
"We should show respect towards Italy," Juncker told Germany's Funke media group.
Italy's new euroskeptic government took power on Friday, led by the political newcomer Giuseppe Conte, who was sworn in as prime minister. The governing coalition is promising to end the EU's recommended austerity measures and to take a less compromising position in relations with Brussels, particularly on the issue of refugees and migrants, and the role of the euro single currency.
Juncker's comments on Thursday were not well received. He said: "Italians have to take care of the poor regions of Italy. That means more work, less corruption, (more) seriousness."
He also said Italy should not "play this game" of holding the EU responsible.
Juncker was asked on Saturday about Italy's massive debt problems and the new government's plans to increase public spending. He responded by saying that he was "not at all in favor of giving lessons to Rome."
"That was what happened too much with Greece, especially by the German-speaking countries," he said.
Juncker said Greece had been hurt by this approach, with "the dignity of the Greek people trodden under foot" when left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took office in 2015.
"That must not happen again in the present case with Italy," he said. "I absolutely do not want to get involved in questions of domestic Italian politics."
In a separate interview with the RND network of German newspapers, Juncker said he did not think the eurozone was facing a new crisis.
"The reactions of the financial markets are irrational," he said. "People should not draw political conclusions from every fluctuation in the stock market. Investors have been wrong on so many occasions before."
Read more: Italy and the eurozone: the cloud returns
He seemed keen to show confidence in the new Italian coalition, by saying "I am certain the Italians have a keen sense of what is good for their country. They will sort it out."
cl/sms (Reuters, AFP)