‘Fresh start’, ‘new start’, news, change: the European election highlighted the will of citizens to have a different Europe, closer to their needs. And this ‘fresh start’ was the starting point Sandro Gozi, Under Secretary for European Affairs of the Renzi’s government, used to introduce the priorities of the Italian Semester of Presidency in front of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs of the European Parliament in Brussels.
“Our six-month Presidency needs to be the beginning of a five-year commitment,” added Gozi, “and we are getting down to work immediately, starting from a careful evaluation of the effectiveness of the Lisbon Treaty and its degree of implementation, especially in view of the electoral results and of the new needs of this Europe.” According to the Under Secretary, the Treaty does not need to be re-opened or amended: it needs to have its effectiveness analysed in depth, with special care towards key sectors such as “economy, immigration and industrial policies.”
Among the priorities of the Italian agenda, an improvement of the General Affairs Council which, according to Gozi, “cannot be limited to preparing the works for the European Council, it also needs to be in charge of its follow up, checking whether the decisions taken have been implemented or not.” Moreover, “we need to evaluate how the Competitiveness Council: we think it is far too fragmented, with unstable representations,” continued Gozi, “we need to turn it into a sort of ‘Real Economy’ Council, parallel to the EcoFin on Economy and Finance.”
The Italian Presidency is also going to act on the relationships among European institutions which, according to Gozi, needs be intensified, with more intertwined institutions. A further aspect which shouldn’t be underestimated is the attention towards fundamental rights: they need to be back at the core of the Union. “In October the Court of Justice should give its advice on the possibility for the European Union to join the European Convention on Human Rights,” added Gozi, “I hope it will be a positive opinion in order to pursue this direction.”
The Under Secretary, answering MEPs’ questions, gave his opinion about subsidiarity: “I do not think the European Union should tell me how to serve oil on my table,” said Gozi with a hint to the measure aimed at obliging public locals not to refill oil bottles (which hadn’t been approved). “The more we fight against this excess of bureaucracy, the better for us all.” Still, “On some issues, such as economic and industrial policies and fundamental rights, there should be ‘more Europe’, there is no general frame,” added Gozi, “and this is the way in which subsidiarity and its positive outcomes should be analysed.”