EU 'fears' Berlusconi's return to power: Monti

Italy's outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said on Sunday the European Union fears Silvio Berlusconi's return to power and his potential negative effect on the euro should his party win this month's election.

"Berlusconi has disappointed me, he's missed all his important meetings and has betrayed the liberal revolution," said Monti, who succeeded the billionaire tycoon as prime minister in November 2011.

"The EU fears his return because it has had enough of the lack of financial discipline and inability to make decisions that puts the eurozone in danger," Monti said on the Berlusconi-owned TgCom24 television channel.

Opinion polls published on Friday showed that Berlusconi, who is running in his sixth election campaign, is narrowing the gap between his centre-right and the centre-left ahead of the February 24-25 vote.

Three-time premier Berlusconi, 76, has spent large parts of his election campaign attacking the EU, the single currency and Germany's role in the 27-member bloc.

"Monti says that the EU fears the return of Silvio Berlusconi? I can assure him that Italy fears Monti's return," said Gianfranco Rotondi, a former minister who served in Berlusconi's government.