"The European project seems to have lost some of its momentum," said Conte, who heads a populist coalition government, regretting what he perceived as passivity in the face of economic crisis.
"Politics, if it is only at the service of the economy, misses its mark," the Italian head of government said in charging that the EU had "lost contact with the people" and was "incapable of understanding (their) true needs."
With Italy as a first point of entry to Europe for tens of thousands of migrants in recent years, Conte noted immigration was a bone of contention for voters on a continent seized by rising populism.
"We cannot go on" dealing with migrant flows via a series of emergency measures, Conte insisted.
He said the bloc required instead "a structural approach for a stable and efficient solution," including a mechanism forcing EU states to share out the burden.
Manfred Weber, leader of the European People's Party centre right grouping, responded by stating the assembly backed a fairer and more effective asylum policy that would provide greater solidarity and end the requirement to apply for asylum only in the first EU country reached.
That policy has earned Rome trenchant criticism and Conte drew more of the same over his country's spending plans and high public deficit, which led to a standoff with Brussels last year prior to the policy being watered down.
"Italy suffered badly from austerity," said Belgian Green lawmaker Philippe Lamberts, but "rather than seek to form alliances ... your government chose confrontations which were theatrical and sterile," he chided Conte.
Conte meanwhile defended a recent meeting in France between deputy prime minister Luigi di Maio and French anti-government "yellow vest" protestors which caused a rumpus between Rome and Paris, saying the visit was made merely as a "party leader.
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