Thursday

30th Mar 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

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.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

SMEs lack support in EU financial plan

The European Commission's plan for a capital markets union is said to be aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises, but many could end up being left out in the cold.

Eurozone chief in 'drinks and women' row

[Updated] The Netherlands' Jeroen Dijsselbloem faces calls for resignation after saying that crisis-hit countries in southern Europe spent "money on drinks and women" before being helped by others.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

News in Brief

  1. UK publishes 'Great Repeal Bill' plan to replace EU laws
  2. Scots share May's vision for Brexit deal, survey says
  3. Coalition talks leader expects Dutch government by summer
  4. EU commission allows ex-member Hill to join law firm
  5. Reuters: Greece and lenders move closer to deal
  6. Italy: Le Pen win would mean 'permanent political risk'
  7. Danish parliament misinformed on Nord Stream 1
  8. UK delivered its Article 50 letter to the EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The Idealist QuarterlyCan Progressive Stories Survive Our Post-Truth Era? After-Work Discussion on 6 April
  2. ACCAG20 Citizens Want 'Big Picture' Tax Policymaking, According to Global Survey
  3. Belgrade Security ForumCall for Papers: European Union as a Global Crisis Manager - Deadline 30 April
  4. European Gaming & Betting Association60 Years Rome Treaty – 60 Years Building an Internal Market
  5. Malta EU 2017New EU Rules to Prevent Terrorism and Give More Rights to Victims Approved
  6. European Jewish Congress"Extremists Still Have Ability and Motivation to Murder in Europe" Says EJC President
  7. European Gaming & Betting AssociationAudiovisual Media Services Directive to Exclude Minors from Gambling Ads
  8. ILGA-EuropeTime for a Reality Check on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  9. UNICEFHuman Cost to Refugee and Migrant Children Mounts Up One Year After EU-Turkey Deal
  10. Malta EU 2017Council Adopts New Rules to Improve Safety of Medical Devices
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Energy Research: How to Reach 100 Percent Renewable Energy
  12. Party of European SocialistsWe Must Renew Europe for All Europeans