Tuesday

16th Oct 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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • 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 warns Italian populists on Greek-type crisis

The EU commission president urged Rome to rethink its budget plans to avoid a Greek-style euro crisis. Meanwhile, Italy's finance minister tried to calm his colleagues in Luxembourg.

Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU

The justice commissioner says the accommodation-rental website will better inform users about prices, and about the legal status of their 'hosts'. Facebook, however, could face sanctions if it doesn't comply with EU rules.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. EU ministers struggle to deal with Poland and Hungary
  2. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  3. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit
  4. ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges
  5. How Juncker's 'do less' group concluded EU should not do less
  6. Cyprus and Russia: Association of Cyprus Banks responds
  7. Orthodox church split just tip of Putin's crumbling 'soft power' in Ukraine
  8. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us