Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti made a surprise appearance at a meeting of the European People’s Party in Brussels also attended by his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It marked the first time that Monti attended an EPP meeting before a European Union summit since he was appointed to head an unelected government of non-politicians 13 months ago. Monti’s appearance at the gathering comes amid mounting pressure on the premier to seek a second term in elections that will probably be held in February.
The two Italian leaders coincided a day after Berlusconi said he would abandon plans to run for a sixth time if Monti would enter the race and lead a coalition of “moderate parties.” Berlusconi was also meeting Merkel for the first time after blaming “German-centric” policies for Italy and Europe’s economic woes in a Dec. 5 interview with Canale 5 television.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy are among the other European leaders attending the EPP meeting.