Tuesday

22nd May 2018

Italy and Germany share 'federalist vocation'

Italy's new Prime Minister Enrico Letta went to Berlin for political talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday (30 April) just hours after being confirmed by the Italian Senate.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, the two tried to downplay their divergences over European economic policy.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Rome is seeking a softer stance on austerity (Photo: Bundesregierung/Denzel)

Merkel repeated several times that "solid public finances" and growth are two sides of the same coin.

"We have to free ourselves from this misconception that growth and budget consolidation are opposed. Solid public finances are a precondition for growth. And growth is not only the state giving money, but it's creating conditions for small and medium enterprises to feel at home, to be able to invest and open up jobs. And for that we need structural reforms, good schools and universities, investments in research," said the Chancellor.

She also tried to show sympathy for the millions of unemployed people in southern European countries.

"Budget deficit figures are of course important, but we must make politics for the people, to stimulate investments, to create more jobs," she said.

For his part, Letta, who was appointed as head of a grand coalition including the centre-right led by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, gave assurances that Italy was not going to steer away from the EU deficit and debt rules.

But the centre-left politician warned that the message given by Italian voters may be replicated in other countries.

"If Europe stands only for negative news, for austerity, then we'll see more of these movements against Europe. We need to work on Europe as a generator of good news, of growth," he noted.

Letta said both he and his government are "profoundly pro-European."

"In the past five years of crisis we did not find sufficient solutions because there was not enough Europe. This is my objective - and also that of Germany, because both our countries have a federalist vocation. Europe always advanced when Italy and Germany worked together," he said.

In view of the upcoming Italian EU presidency in the second half of 2014, Letta says he wants to see Europe reach its four goals of a banking union, a fiscal and economic union, as well as a political union.

"If we reached these objectives, we could solve our domestic problems much easier," he said.

Asked if he will deliver on Berlusconi's campaign promise that if in government, his party will eradicate a property tax introduced last year, Letta said these are "internal matters."

"We will stick to our commitments but what taxes we impose is our domestic choice," he said.

The new Italian leader will also travel to Brussels and Paris this week. Industry minister Flavio Zanonato said Letta's aim is to "renegotiate" EU rules on debt and deficit, so that investment spending is exempted from the overall thresholds.

Former prime minister Mario Monti tried for the last two years to get this introduced, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption

EU trade chief said the US will impose tariffs or "other limiting measures" on 1 June, as the EU's offer to start limited trade talks is probably not enough for the protectionist Trump presidency.

Commission 'playing tricks' with EU budget figures

The EU parliament's budget rapporteur complained the Commission is using numbers with a "desire to confuse". According to parliament estimates, the cohesion fund could suffer as much as a 45 percent cut.

Analysis

EU has no 'magic bullet' against US Iran sanctions

EU leaders in Sofia will discuss how they can protect the bloc's economic interests against US threats to sanction companies doing business in Iran. But their options are limited.

Opinion

EU budget must not fortify Europe at expense of peace

Given the European Commission new budget's heavy focus on migration, border management and security, many are asking whether the proposal will fortify Europe at the expense of its peace commitments.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  2. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  3. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  5. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  7. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  10. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  11. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach
  12. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May

Latest News

  1. Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?
  2. EU pessimistic on permanent US trade exemption
  3. US asks EU to go after Russian and African villains
  4. Facebook threatened with removal from EU-US data pact
  5. Defence firms 'reap benefits' of their advice to EU
  6. Athens mayor wants direct access to EU migration fund
  7. Nordics could be first carbon-negative region in world
  8. Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK