In his first newspaper interview, former European Commission chief Romano Prodi told the Sunday Times of London about his plan to speed up integration of a core group of European Union countries once he takes over as prime minister of Italy.
His first priority, he said, is to forge an alliance of what he calls "the countries most determined to push for a common European policy."
"We need a strong relationship not just with France and Germany but also with the so-called group of six, countries like Belgium and Luxembourg," Prodi said .
Asked if the group would include Britain, he said that would be difficult since Britain evidently believes in a policy that is more independent of the EU.
It was his first newspaper interview since last week's election and took place as he traveled by train to his family home in Bologna.