Matteo Renzi’s Speech before the European Parliament as Italy takes over the Presidency of the EU

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, VIII LEGISLATURE, FIRST PLENARY SESSION, 2 JULY 2014.

On 2 July 2014, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Matteo Renzi, gave a speech before the European Parliament as Italy took over its six-month Presidency of the European Union.

In his speech, Mr. Renzi put particular emphasis on the need to boost economic growth. He said:

It is clear that the economic issue we have been living through, as well as the discussion that we had in the last meeting of the Council, cannot be reduced to an issue of some countries asking the others to change the rules. We were the first to say that we want to respect the rules and we do not ask to change them. However, you respect the rules by recalling that we all signed together – our predecessors did – a pact called “Stability and Growth Pact”. Stability is there together with growth and the request to have growth as an essential part of the European economic policy does not come from a country alone. It is necessary for Europe, not for Italy. Without growth, Europe has no future.

Mr. Renzi then replied to the Chairman of the EPP, Mr. Manfred Weber, who had harshly criticized the idea of ‘flexibility’ and had expressed his concerns over Italy’s debt levels.

I was really struck by the intervention of the Chairman of the EPP, who probably forgot that some of his MEPs support my government, even though this is not relevant here. I am surprised because I did not understand whether he spoke in this Chamber on behalf of his political party, in which case […] I have no doubt that in the past years his political group – which governed Italy for many years – explained to its members all the brilliant considerations that were made on the Italian debt and economic policy […].

If, on the other hand, Chairman Weber spoke on behalf of Germany, I would like to point out […] that in this very Chamber, during the past Italian Presidency of the European Semester, a country was allowed to violate the limits, not to benefit from flexibility. That country was Germany, and the reform process that followed made it possible for Germany to be today a growing country.

He continued:

Brandishing the weapon of preconception – without knowing, for instance, that, while it is true that Italy has a very high public debt, it also has a public and private wealth that is four times as much as the public debt – […] this is an attitude we utterly reject.

And he concluded:

Italy and France are not asking for different rules of the game. We are fine with these rules. Instead, we are all together here to say that only by investing on growth we will ensure a prosperous future for our children. If we do not move away from slogans, I am afraid we will not even be able to defend our countries of origin.

The debate on the program of the Italian Presidency of the EU for the next six months, including the full version of Mr. Renzi’s statement, can be found at:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+CRE+20140702+ITEM-012+DOC+XML+V0//FR&language=FR

Also, the video of the debate can be visualized here:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ep-live/en/plenary/video?debate=1404306933777

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