Over the past six months, Europe has undergone a “profound change in direction, now it’s time for action”; while the Italian EU presidency has “the colour and taste of an opportunity”. In his closing speech for the EU presidency in Strasbourg, Matteo Renzi underscored that “either Europe switches economic gears or it is going to find itself left behind by a rapidly changing world”.
The prime minister, who described out-going President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano as a convinced pro-Europe advocate who is about to conclude his duties, said that “we are going in the right direction, but we have to do more. We are ready to do our part, to believe in investing in flexibility”.
Italy contributed to saving States
“Italian citizens”, the premier underscored, “should be much more aware of the fact that we have given Europe many more resources over the years than those we have been given: nearly 20 million euro, while receiving no more than half in return”. Italy, he observed, “has contributed to bailing out not only friendly governments but banks as well, not out of generosity but because it believes in European institutions. It has done so without asking even a single euro for its own credit institutions”, which consequently had to recapitalise at the time of the stress test. “Italy”, Renzi continued, “does not come to ask for help but to offer an illustrious history that began not only in Rome with the signing of the Treaty, but well before that. Italy believes in Europe as a vast area of hope for the new generations, and is aware that we must confront our problems at home”.
Giving Europe vitality
“We have tried to give vitality to Europe. We see Europe as a place of freedom, not a fortresses but an open square, not a place of conflict but of dialogue and encounter”. The premier made specific reference to the relationship between identity and integration observing that, “the thought of defending our identity behind the closed walls of a fortress in the name of security, begs the response that freedom itself is a prerequisite for security. The opposite of identity is not integration, but anonymity. The opposite of integration is disintegration, rupture, destruction”.