Wednesday

19th Dec 2018

Monti attacks 'short-termism' in EU politics

  • 'Leadership is opposite of short-termism,' says Mario Monti (Photo: World Economic Forum)

Italy's outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti on Wednesday (23 January) criticised fellow EU leaders for the way they dealt with the euro crisis and said corporations are blocking reforms in order to promote "vested interests" in Europe.

"Leadership is the opposite of short-termism. And there was short-termism in the initial response to the euro-crisis," Monti said in a speech at the World Economic Forum, a yearly gathering of political leaders in the Swiss resort of Davos.

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

The technocrat and former EU commissioner took over the reigns of power in 2011, when his predecessor and convicted fraudster Silvio Berlusconi stepped down amid market pressure which drove Italy close to a bailout.

Monti praised the Italian people for trusting him and for enduring the sacrifices that were needed to bring Italy back on track.

Without naming Berlusconi, he blamed the previous generations of Italian leaders who failed to transform the country, accumulated debt and allowed corruption and vested interests to flourish.

He spoke frankly about "northern leaders" - a hint to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Dutch and Scandinavian allies - who "failed to recognise the systemic component of the crisis," meaning that markets mistrusted Italy even when it started to clean up its act, because there was no confidence in the euro as such.

As seen in Italy, Monti said painful reforms everywhere in Europe can be accepted by the public if they see justice and fairness, instead of the rich and privileged being let off the hook.

"I saw corporate interests having rather more taxes than opening markets. Sometimes their resistance is camouflaged behind traditional ideas. Vested corporate interests are found throughout the EU, not just Italy," Monti said.

As for his own political choices, Monti - who so far had never been a political party member - said he took the decision to lead a coalition of centrist parties in the general elections on 24-25 February despite it being "against my nature and my personal interest."

"The essence of my endeavour is to build a highly competitive social market economy in Italy and in Europe. It is an ambitious agenda but we owe it to our people, to the most fragile who pay the price of unemployment. They are victims of governments not strong enough in confronting corruption, vested interests, tax evasion, market manipulation," he said.

Cameron is right

The former internal market commissioner, who authored a plan on how to improve the EU single market a few years ago, said he agrees with British Prime Minister David Cameron on one issue: that the single market is not working properly.

Cameron earlier on Wednesday said he wants Britain to renegotiate the terms of its EU membership, focusing on the single market, and then to submit the new deal to a referendum in 2017.

Monti said he also sees the "advantage" of putting the "real question" to the British people: whether they want to be in or out of the EU, rather than playing around with "marginal" questions.

"I don't know what the British people will say, but I am confident that all the costs and benefits of this decisions will come up and facilitate a positive decision for all Europeans," he said.

Italy to run balanced budget, minister says

The Italian economy will run a balanced budget in 2013 before returning to growth the following year, the country's outgoing finance minister has said.

Poland: UK no longer a leading EU country

Britain has lost its place in the club of leading EU nations over its plan to hold a referendum on EU membership, the Polish foreign minister has said.

Focus

Liberals unveil new Monti-backed Italian coalition

The EU's Liberals have unveiled a new Mario Monti-backed Italian centrist coalition, as the party attempts to fight back against dismal poll ratings that threaten to make it one of the biggest losers in May's European elections.

Orban protests target state media in new front

Unprecedented protests against Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban's "illiberal" style mark a rare united front of opposition parties, amid new violence against opposition MPs.

News in Brief

  1. 3,500 UK troops on standby for no-deal Brexit
  2. Brexit: Opposition disagrees over no confidence vote
  3. EU court confirms suspension of Polish judges law
  4. France to tax Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon
  5. EU negotiators agree CO2 targets for cars
  6. May: Brexit vote will be week of 14 January
  7. Rome finds extra budget funds to fit EU demands
  8. Polish climate talks end in agreement on rulebook

Opinion

EU parliament vote strengthens whistleblower protection

We must not undervalue what a massive step the European Parliament vote represents. The hard work has paid off. We can take a moment to celebrate, but the hard work begins again for finalising strong protection for European whistleblowers.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Muscat's one-man rule poses challenge for EU
  2. Orban protests target state media in new front
  3. Brexit and the Queen Sacrifice
  4. EU gives Switzerland another six months for a deal
  5. Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating
  6. EU capitals see weekend of tear gas and water cannon
  7. Bulgarian 'EU passports' whistleblower wants justice
  8. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us