Matteo Renzi

Renzi: a great country enters the Union for giving, not for asking

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The Italian Prime Minister has pronounced the opening speech of the Italian Semester at the European Parliament. “Rules are good, but we can guarantee our children a future of prosperity only by investing on growth”

“A great country enters European Institutions for giving, not for asking.” Matteo Renzi decided to be clear-cut in defining the Italian attitude: we are proud, still aware of the efforts we must maintain, and we must act in Europe for the sake of the entire Union

Renzi didn’t illustrate the Semester programme, but chose to speak off the cuff during the opening speech of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union in Strasbourg. He talked about ideals and commitments, for a Europe which – he said jokingly – “if the Union was to take a selfie, it would be a tired, resigned image.”

Future and reforms are the keywords of the speech, followed by a debate, much longer than expected. Renzi claimed its party, the PD, is first in Europe as per votes received at the European election, votes “we got telling the truth,” added the PM, “We said we need to reform. Italy did not come her for asking something to Europe, Italy has come for saying we trust in European institutions, with the bravery and the pride of those coming to give, not to ask.” Then Renzi reiterated a concept he’s been saying everyday for a long time: “We are the first to say we want to comply with rules, we do not want to amend them, still there is a ‘Stability and Growth Pact’ then there is growth, without growth there is no future.”

Now Italy does not want to look back, “we want to start the future right now” for a Europe “which is not a simple ‘geographic expression’, it should be the expression of our soul,” Renzi said. Our fate is “claiming the right of being heirs of a great tradition we should continue,” he added. He then launched the ‘motto of the day’: “We are the Telemachus generation,” he said, “Athena told him he could not stay there and wait,” then “we will speak up about economic reforms: our future does not lie in the coins we have in our pockets only.”

During his reply to MEPs considerations, Renzi addressed severely the head of the EPP Group, Manfred Weber, who was particularly harsh and strict about ‘respecting rules’: “If you come here to teach a lesson to others,” he said, “then you made a mistake about the place you are in…Italy has contributed to the ESM, saving countries and short-sighted banks,” he added. Still, Renzi guessed whether Weber talked on behalf of the EPP Group or of Germany instead? The same Germany which “was not allowed flexibility, true, it was allowed to exceed the constraints in order to grow,” added Renzi. According to the Prime Minister, “rules are good, but we can guarantee our children a future of prosperity only by investing in growth.”

Then, the big ‘M’: migration. “Europe needs to be a border again. If we look at a geographical map, we see a continent with the highest shores/territory ratio: geographically speaking, we are a border. This creates serious problems, and Italy is experiencing some of them nowadays, with Libyan troubles creating nightmares on the sea, on our Mediterranean Sea. We are trying to stop these massacres, cooperating with Heads of State and the Commission, and Frontex Plus will help us even more.” According to Renzi, “migration is not the only issue we need to face, let’s try to reverse the view: Africa needs to experience ‘more Europe’, not only with investments, we need to handle the energy issue as well as the human dimension.”

Any project on the future of the Union cannot be made disregarding a full participation by the United Kingom, given that “we want to build a Smart Europe, all together, and the European Union without the United Kingdom would be less rich, less Europe.”



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