EU parliament should look to Rome for inspiration, Meloni tells rally

By Crispian Balmer

ROME (Reuters) - The next European Parliament should copy the current Italian model of government, drawing together all parties on the right of the political spectrum to rule together, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Saturday.

Addressing her only campaign rally ahead of a June 6-9 vote across the European Union, Meloni said the 27-nation bloc needed to rein in its regulatory ambitions and interfere less in the lives of its citizens.

Meloni, head of the rightist Brothers of Italy party, is one of Europe's most closely watched leaders, presenting herself as a bridge between the mainstream centre-right and her own arch-conservative camp, which was previously shunned.

Opinion polls suggest that groups around the political centre -- the centre-right, centre-left, Greens and Liberals -- will be able to form another majority in the next EU parliament, which decides on laws that drive policy in the bloc.

But Meloni, who leads a coalition in Italy that unites centrist and far-right parties, said she wanted to see this replicated at a European level to foster a conservative agenda.

"We have a clear objective -- we want to do in Brussels what we did in Rome a year and a half ago; build a centre-right government in Europe and finally send the leftists, reds, greens and yellows, who have caused so much damage to our continent over the years, into opposition," she said.

In a one hour-long speech, she made no mention of merging her conservative umbrella group in Europe with a far-right alliance that includes Marine Le Pen's National Rally in France.

While EU moderates say they can work with Meloni, whose party is expected to win the most votes in Italy, they have ruled out any power-sharing deal with Le Pen and her allies.

Meloni said past EU commissions -- the bloc's de facto government -- had been out of touch with ordinary people, and that it should be more pragmatic in future.

"Europe can continue to try to regulate every aspect of our existence and be ineffective in crisis scenarios right at our doorstep, or it can choose to do fewer things and do them better," she told a crowd of flag-waving supporters.

She highlighted areas where she said Europe was failing, including by imposing demanding environmental standards on firms that had to compete against countries with no such restraints or that had much lower production costs.

Specific mention was made to the growing power of Chinese car manufacturers, amid alarm that the EU's promotion of green energy will damage Italy's auto industry.

"Europe can continue to open our markets to those who do not respect our same social and environmental standards, or it can protect our businesses adequately from unfair competition to defend the civilisation and welfare that has been achieved over the centuries," she said, to cheers.

(Reporting by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Mike Harrison)