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Italy, the sick man of Europe?
Referring to Germany's vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, who said that the EU would go "down the drain" unless more EU states were kept from following Britain's lead, Gozi acknowledged the Union was in a "delicate phase" and could not afford to maintain "the status quo".
But many Italians have grown frustrated over the EU's failure to look after the refugees and migrants arriving on Italian shores and turning down the country's requests for financial assistance.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has given Italy the worst forecast of any eurozone country and said it won't return to pre-2008 levels at least for another ten years.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had promised to cut taxes and reduce public debt.
Confronted with these numbers, Sandro Gozi put the blame on the EU and previous Italian governments: "The country has never done serious reform for the last 15 years. A country which has suffered more than others because (of) wrong European therapy. […] We are doing the reform effort which nobody has done before." He also promised more reforms if his party wins an upcoming referendum on amending to the Italian constitution.
To be held in November 2016, the referendum will allow Italians to vote on restricting the powers of the regional governments by reducing the influence of the upper house of parliament. Renzi’s government hopes that this will make it easier to pass legislation. Critics of the referendum say it is a political gamble and could easily be hijacked by anti-European voters. Renzi has suggested he could step down if the result goes against him.
After Brexit, his chances have gotten slimmer.
At the same time, the government's reaction to the earthquakes in central Italy in August 2016 that killed almost 300 people has also come under fire. Rome has been repeatedly criticized for not having done enough to prevent a disaster like this one by allowing illegal construction and corruption in reconstruction projects.
"Experts estimate that some 70 percent of Italy’s buildings are not built to anti-seismic standards, with codes routinely not applied to older buildings when they are refurbished, and not respected at all when new ones are built," Jon Henley wrote in the Guardian.
No lessons learned?
But it's not just about being unprepared. Italy suffers the highest rate of perception of corruption in the EU. Brussels released €494 million from its Solidarity Fund after the earthquake in L'Aquila which caused 300 deaths and damaged 30.000 buildings. According to an EU report, there was serious mismanagement of those funds.