The Italian Presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2014 will focus on growth and jobs, because the current social malaise is making it hard for citizens to embrace the idea of Europe. And the European elections will be difficult if we cannot provide them with answers. These were Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s comments after his talk with the President of the EU Commission, José Manuel Barroso, during the meeting with the College of European Commissioners in Brussels. Also taking part were Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and her colleagues the Ministers for European Affairs, Enzo Moavero Milanesi; the Economy and Finance, Fabrizio Saccomanni; and Territorial Cohesion, Carlo Trigilia.
EU youth unemployment summit to take place in Rome in July
“After the EU Commission’s visit to Rome on 3 and 4 July we want to organise a summit focusing on youth unemployment”, announced Letta. “And in mid-October we’ll be holding a summit of the 28 heads of state and government of the countries of Europe along with their counterparts from the countries of Asia”, he added. The summit will be part of an initiative on EXPO 2015 which will establish Italy’s leading position with respect to “the idea of Europe” through the topic of food security. “The perfect topic for Italy and for Europe, and the topic of the future”, added Letta.
Immigration: “more Europe” is needed to prevent another Lampedusa tragedy
Illegal immigration is another important dossier for Italy because, as Letta underscored, “tragedies like the one at Lampedusa must not be repeated”. On this front, “Italy wants to see ‘more Europe’ and we will do everything possible to ensure that this issue is a central topic of the Italian Presidency”.
Ukraine: grave concern, but Europe’s doors must stay open
The EU’s external relations are another hot issue, especially as regards the crisis in Ukraine. A situation of “grave concern”, commented Letta, who assured the Commission that “we are making every effort to ensure that Europe’s doors stay open. Violence and repression are not the right path to follow. Dialogue is the only route to a solution”.
Marines: Barrosa reiterates the EU’s commitment to support Italy
The case of the two Italian marines held in India for about 2 years now was another topic that the Italian delegation, led on this issue by Letta and Bonino, discussed with the Commission. President Barroso reiterated the EU’s – and his own – commitment to do everything possible to ensure that a satisfactory solution is reached. He also reiterated the Commission’s opposition to the death penalty –a possibility aired in recent weeks in the case of the two Italian marines.