“It’s the first thing I intend to do next week, if we’re still in charge,” said Renzi, who is widely expected to resign if a majority of voters reject his constitutional reform law in a referendum on Dec. 4.
Meanwhile, his government is clashing with the EU over asylum seekers, a vast majority of whom end up in Italy because its southernmost islands are the first European stop for people fleeing war and persecution in Africa and the Middle East.
There were 172,897 refugees arriving in Italy by sea as of Nov. 30 this year, according to the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency.
The EU has agreed to a relocation program to share the burden of hosting tens of thousands of refugees across the bloc, but several countries have refused to stick to that commitment.
Several Central European countries closed their borders to stem migrant influx as Europe faces the largest-scale migration crisis since World War II.
Italy is arguing that unless the EU does its fair share – including the relocation of 39,600 asylum seekers from its soil to other European countries – it will wield its veto power to torpedo the Union’s proposed budget, worth 134.49 billion euros(143.33 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017.
Renzi – who was Italy’s youngest prime minister when he took office in February 2014 at the age of 39 – also warned if the ‘No’ vote carries the day, it will be years before Italy gets a similar chance.
“If the reform doesn’t pass it will be like putting a tombstone on reforms for at least a decade,” he said. “It’s been like that in the past”.
The constitutional reform went through a total of two years and four days of debate, six readings, and 5,400 voting sessions in both houses of parliament before becoming law, Renzi pointed out.
“It’s an extremely difficult reform to carry out, and this is why we won’t get another chance,” he said. Enditem