Sunday

18th Feb 2018

Renzi: EU at 'crossroads' between austerity and recovery

  • Renzi (l) will present the Italian presidency's priorities at this week's EU summit (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

The EU is at a “crossroads” between accepting a long period of austerity and high unemployment or taking steps to boost an economic recovery, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has warned.

Speaking in national parliament on Tuesday (24 June), Renzi told deputies that “high priests and prophets of austerity” were stifling the European economy.

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.

Renzi’s government takes control of the EU’s six month rotating presidency next week and has indicated that migration and the bloc’s stability and growth pact will be its main policy priorities.

The Italian prime minister has led calls for the pact’s rules on budget deficits to be interpreted in a way that encourages more public investment.

He told parliament that although Rome would “respect the rules,” most notably the requirement to keep Italy’s budget deficit within 3 percent of GDP, “there are different ways of approaching rules”.

“Either we accept that we share common values, or you can keep your currency and we’ll keep our values,” he told deputies.

The language is likely to inflame opinion in Berlin, where Angela Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schuaeble maintain that the 3 percent threshold offers sufficient flexibility, but momentum to revise the implementation of the pact has gained pace in recent weeks.

An IMF report presented to ministers last week by the Fund’s managing director, Christine Lagarde, urged them to scrap the deficit target, arguing that the pact’s rules had “become excessively complicated with multiple objectives and targets.”

Meanwhile, a priorities paper drafted by Renzi and his Europe minister Sandro Gozi to be presented to EU leaders at this week’s summit in Brussels, states that the pact’s rules have been interpreted “in a restrictive fashion and used mainly to accommodate extreme recessions”.

The Italians’ second priority is to beef up the EU’s approach to migration, particularly from north African countries affected by the Arab Spring. It moots the possibility of creating an integrated system of Border Control Guards in Europe.

Despite only becoming prime minister in February, Renzi has quickly built a strong platform of support at home and abroad.

His centre-left Democratic party scored a decisive victory in May’s European election, taking 31 of Italy’s 73 MEP seats.

With the next European Commission not in place until October, Renzi’s presidency is well placed to define the agenda of the next five year legislature.

The presidency paper also argues that May’s European elections, which saw a surge in support for the far-right and eurosceptic parties, highlighted “a widespread and still unanswered demand for change.”

Turning a “blind eye” could see “this demand turn sour, fuelling anti-European, even xenophobic sentiment,” it adds.

Referring to the debate on whether Jean Claude Juncker will become the next President of the European Commission, Renzi noted that “those who imagine that the gap in Europe is filled with the nomination of Juncker are living on Mars”.

However, he is still expected to back the former Luxembourg premier.

Agenda

ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK

EU leaders will gather to begin talking about the 2019 election process and the post-2020 budget, while eurozone finance ministers will ponder choosing the next European Central Bank deputy chief.

News in Brief

  1. Merkel: Nord Stream 2 pipeline poses 'no danger'
  2. Spanish king in Barcelona next week
  3. Turkey jails journalists for life
  4. Make budget cuts in farm and regional funds, the Dutch say
  5. UN: Hungary's anti-migration bill is 'assault on human rights'
  6. Journalist Deniz Yucel freed in Turkey
  7. New organic farming bill not ready until late spring
  8. Commissioner: Western Balkans in EU is 'obvious'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsUzbekistan: Investigate Torture of Journalist
  2. EPSUMovie Premiere: 'Up to The Last Drop' - 22 February, Brussels
  3. CESICESI@Noon on ‘Digitalisation & Future of Work: Social Protection For All?’ - March 7
  4. UNICEFExecutive Director's Committment to Tackling Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region 2018: Facts, Figures and Rankings of the 74 Regions
  6. Mission of China to the EUDigital Economy Shaping China's Future, Over 30% of GDP
  7. Macedonian Human Rights Movement Int.Suing the Governments of Macedonia and Greece for Changing Macedonia's Name
  8. Dialogue PlatformBeyond the Errors in the War on Terror: How to Fight Global Militarism - 22 February
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHarnessing Globalization- at What Cost? Keynote Speaker Commissioner Malmström
  10. European Friends of ArmeniaSave The Date 28/02: “Nagorno-Karabakh & the EU: 1988-2018”
  11. European Heart NetworkSmart CAP is Triple Win for Economy, Environment and Health
  12. European Free AlllianceEFA Joined the Protest in Aiacciu to Solicit a Dialogue After the Elections

Latest News

  1. EU asks charities to explain anti-abuse measures
  2. ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK
  3. EU states stay mute on implementation of mercury bill
  4. Baltic states demand bigger EU budget
  5. Germany raises concerns over Hungary's 'Stop Soros' bills
  6. EU ties Brexit transition talks to divorce agreement
  7. EU divided over Western Balkan enlargement
  8. Facebook and Twitter weak on protecting users, says EU