L'EDITORIALE / Lorenzo Robustelli
Direttore di Eunews      
Lucia Annunziata, Matteo Renzi, Europa, Europe, Pierre Moscovici, Jean-Claude Juncker, Europea Commission, Italy

Lucia Annunziata (foto tratta da Huffingtonpost.it)

Dear Lucia Annunziata, I don’t agree with you about Renzi and Europe

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I owe a lot to Lucia Annunziata. She taught me a lot, both professionally and personally speaking. She taught me a lot on this fantastic job, and on how we need to tackle life. Still, this time I do not agree with her, with her analysis on Matteo Renzi and the European Union.

Annunziata wrote that “…in the end, we can boil everything down to one big issue: the double standard in force for several states in several ways in Europe,” and citied the case of Germany which first seemed to be fighting against Russia and then finished an agreement for its own pipeline; the case of the U.K. which imposed a debate on its claims for staying in the Union. Sure thing, there’s some truth in the idea of ‘double standard’. For years, Italy had been a solid but submissive partner of the Union, giving much and obtaining not much, discrediting its own image as negotiator and its real weigh on the Brussels scene. Then came the Berlusconi’s era (of which I’d been testimony first with Lucia as editor-in-chief and then as ‘simple’ founder of my news agency), a true disaster of misunderstandings, non-communication, indifference, fragmented by four years of serious, sometime decisive, but unfortunately too short Europeanism led by Romano Prodi. We all know what happened in 2011, with an exhausted Berlusconism which had become a far too heavy burden for European partners.

Since then, a different story has started. Mario Monti and Enrico Letta tried to rebuild the relationships with the EU, both through diplomacy and with facts. They’d started to rebuild the credibility of our nation. Their governments hadn’t lasted long, but represented a twitch, they were the beginning of something new. I’m not here for judging single choices, but that was the time in which Italy started to recreate its role on the European stage. European partners wanted that too: they could no longer accept that one of the biggest and wealthiest Member States of the Union, one of EU Founding States, the third economy of the Euroarea, had become a useless burden, with no influence on the European process, which rejected its responsibilities.

And then came Matteo Renzi, who has been able to put into effect many of the things his predecessors would have (probably) liked to realise without being able to do so. Again, I’m not here to judge contents, but Renzi implemented most of the reforms required by Brussels for ‘competitiveness’, for relaunching Italy and getting back its growth. This was acknowledged by both the European Commission and several governments. Widely recognised. So widely that it’s quite hard for us to see the ‘double standard’ denounced by Annunziata, living here and trying to keep our position as impartial as possible. We’d already said that, it was the Commission led by José Manuel Barroso the one talking about growth but imposing austerity and the much hated ‘zeroes point something’ about which Renzi is talking as they were current issues. The Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker talks about finances and regulations (doing the right thing) but is actually doing its best to help those States – such as Italy – which need a substantial help for amending the errors made in the past.

Sure, Germany has an excessive commercial surplus which is harming its partners and not much has been done so far on the matter, but considering that Europe is struggling to exit the crisis, I’d be hard to hit the ones obtaining positive results. Still, as explained by Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Italy “is the country benefiting the most from flexibility on investments and structural reforms.” This doesn’t mean we cannot get more, as the Commissioner likely suggested saying that “we have an open dialogue with Italian authorities concerning their latest requests concerning the expenses related to the refugee crisis and the fight against terrorism,” on which “the Commission will decide in May.”

Annunziata decided instead to take Manfred Weber, MEP and Head of the EPP, as an example, but the Bavarian Weber is “just” a Member of the Parliament, who can talk as much as he wishes expressing his political ideas – but he’s not the one taking decisions in Brussels. I’d taken Moscovici instead and his reply to Weber in Strasbourg, to which he added: “We need to focus on this {open dialogue}. I think that a fight between Italy and the Union would be useless. We need to purse compromises where possible, and this is what I am going to do.”

No ‘double standard’ then, just a political approach to issues, trying to balance the needs of everyone in view of a wider project.

Dealing with migration, attacking Brussels – seen as the European Commission only – is wrong as well. The Commission has done its best within its mandate: it launched a plan for relocation, it is trying to create new norms on the matter, it is reviewing (as asked by Italy) the Dublin agreement on the right of asylum. It is up to Member States to act now, but they aren’t doing anything, leaving Italy, Greece and Croatia on their own. This is the level on which we need to act – this is where the government needs to show is political and diplomatic power.

I’m not going to say – as many people do, including Annunziata – that “It’s not like that in Europe”, “fighting doesn’t get anything” and so on. I’d say that this kind of attacks are useless, they are just making the situation worse. They might have a remarkable internal value, they might create a diversion. They might help in creating consenti in view of the forthcoming local election. Perhaps, they could contribute to the erosion of the electoral themes used by other political forces in view of other, and more important, electoral deadlines. But there’s no use for them in reinforcing the role of Italy on the international stage in Brussels. As someone said, even though he was talking about something else: “votes should be weighed, not counted.”


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