Sunday, February 9, 2014

A great European

In his speech at the European Parliament five days ago, President Napolitano made a passionate plea for Europe as well as for his country, Italy. In times of growing euroscepticism, he said, citing Altiero Spinelli, that " nothing can make us turn back from Europe". Yet he addressed the current problems of Europe and the need to reinvent Europe. 

The crisis of the European Union lies in the "deterioration of the living conditions" which is currently affecting a wide share of the population and the most striking factor is the rise in unemployment and the sharp increase in youth unemployment". It is therefore impossible to rely solely on restoring public finances and that more flexibility is needed. He also said that "austerity policy at any cost no longer will work". “Sustained, qualified growth clearly requires reform, but besides simply referring to clear parameters, we also need a great attention to be paid to the effective conditions of debt sustainability in each country and, connected there too, we need to be flexible enough in terms of the ways and the timing for bringing about further financial re-balance.” This was a clear message for Italy (and thus other 'peripheral' countries) to get a margin of  flexibility in their budgets to allow for investments programmes for boosting their economy (the so-called 'investment clause'). 

President Napolitano dedicated large part of his address to defending Europe, against populism and anti-European movements.. While the President was condemning “the destructive agitation against the euro and the European Union,” the Italian Northern League MEPs stood up wearing their green scarf, whistling and showing “No Euro” signs. According to Napolitano, “there is empty propaganda and little credibility from those who have spoken out” against the history of European integration. 

“How can people talk about the end of the European dream claiming that the end could involve the abandonment of euro to save the Union? The traumatic consequences and the feasibility of doing that are seen with terrifying simplicity by some people, and really, that would be such an improbable change,” added President Napolitano. “This moment of truth must be lived the fullest, with all its implications,” said President Napolitano, referring to the forthcoming European Parliament elections. 

A great European in the line of Adenauer, De Gasperi, Spinelli or Delors.  

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