Italy ‘very important’ to EU: Juncker

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Brussels, May 17 (IANS/AKI) Italy is a country “of maximum importance” for the European Union, the President of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday.

“Italy is of maximum importance for the EU, which would not be complete without the Italian nation and its people,” Juncker told reporters in Brussels.

“I know Italians very well,” Juncker said, noting that he grew up in a village with several Italian residents and used to play football with them.

“I love Italy, the genius of its people and their nation. But I won’t comment in advance on the possible outcome of talks taking place on a coalition government,” he said.

“We will see what the outcome is and then we will comment,” Juncker stated.

Juncker was referring to negotiations on a common policy agenda between the populist Five-Star Movement and far-right League party, which Five-Star leader Luigi Di Maio said on Wednesday would be completed “within a few hours”.

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Five-Star party members will be asked to approve on an online vote the German-style five-year ‘contract’ being hammered out with the League, Di Maio has said.

Mattarella has extended indefinitely the last-ditch talks between Five-Star and the League on a tie-up, which began last Thursday.

If the talks fall through, Mattarella will appoint a ‘neutral’ caretaker government to oversee fresh elections later this year.

Several previous rounds of talks with Italian political leaders have collapsed since the inconclusive 4 March national election, amid a mesh of seemingly irreconcilable demands.

–IANS/AKI

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