Former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi says that the European Union must fundamentally change and get closer to its citizens if it is to survive.

Renzi said in Brussels, where he is finishing his campaign to reclaim leadership of the Italian Democratic Party, that "Europe needs radical change" after last year's British vote to leave the bloc and the rise of populism across the continent.

Renzi is hoping this Sunday's DP primary will see him rebound from the embarrassing defeat Italian voters dealt him last year in a referendum on reforms he made a centerpiece of his government. Even if he has been a fundamentally pro-Europe politician, he sometimes was at loggerheads with EU officials during his term as premier.