Matteo Renzi has turned against the EU with a furious rant against Brussels austerity
The former Italian PM said “ten years of wrong policies” had caused “hell” in the country, comparing Italy to a sick hospital patient.
He said harsh austerity measures were “disastrous” and said it was time for the bloc to put individual countries ahead of Brussels.
Mr Renzi said: “For too long it was said ‘Europe asks for it’. It's time to hear Brussels saying ‘Italy asks for it’.
“Europe can not be just a set of fiscal and economic rules. [It is] actually more of the latter because there are few of the former.”
He also accused some European Union countries of attempting to become “tax havens” while Italy “becomes hell”, during a speech last weekend.
Furious Italians protesting against harsh austerity
Mr Renzi said, despite being a long-term supporter of the European project, he had now turned against how the union was being run.
He said: “Europe is the greatest achievement of world politics in the twentieth century … European countries had fratricidal conflicts for centuries. If we have had peace for 70 years it is because of Europe.
These are the most eurosceptic countries Fri, February 24, 2017
Rising disenchantment with the dealings of EU is not just confined to the UK.
Play slideshow 1 of 8
“Having said that, we are the ones who say that the European Union, as it is right now, does not work. Over the past 10 years almost all European economic policies have been wrong. We have chosen austerity and it was disastrous.”
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
Matteo Renzi was a long-time supporter of the EU
Comparing Italy to a hospital patient and the EU to a surgeon, Mr Renzi said: "We stopped [austerity] in 2014 … and people in the EU started seeing us as crazy.
"We obtained flexibility not with respect to the previous rules, but compared to the stupid rules of the Fiscal Compact.
"It's like saying 'This surgery went perfectly, but the patient died'."
He also slated the lack of accountability in the EU, especially regarding unelected leaders.
Matteo Renzi with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
The former PM said: “The mechanism of primary elections is beautiful: I vote and I choose someone.
"It should be like that in Europe, but not all parties do it."