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A politeia for a new, strong and fair Europe

Rome, 29/01/2019, Meeting for The Aspen Junior Fellows

The first 2019 meeting of the Aspen Junior Fellows focused on analyzing the European Union’s plans and prospects in this year of parliamentary elections.

“Knowing Europe in order to change it”, could be said to have been the discussion’s leitmotiv. The Treaties map out the objectives toward which the Union must strive, such as balanced economic growth and price stability, and the instruments employed must be capable of meeting the ambitious goals that the common project envisions.

The commitment to growth needs strengthening; the EU’s budget is small as compared with gross domestic product, and does not allow for intervention in support of the limited actions of individual members bound by previously established fiscal parameters. To that end, the operational scope of the European Investment Bank could be expanded.

Interdependence among Union member states, especially those of the eurozone, is a structural prerequisite. As the effects of one member’s economic slowdown would ripple out to others, provisions must be made for the efficient allocation of resources at national and European levels. Another delicate aspect concerns how European rules on competition relate to an array of national tax laws.

Italy’s participation in the European Union can be considered on two levels. The first regards the guidelines on reform of the Union’s institutional architecture: Italy must clarify its priorities in order to continue to contribute to the European debate. The proposals to be placed on the table after adequate reflection will be a “Utopia for realists”, to paraphrase Rutger Bregman,  in the awareness that a well-formulated idea makes much more noise than a fist pounded on the table – or at least it lasts longer, as Guido Carli so often pointed out.

The second order of issues, more practical but of no less importance, concerns the means and resources that our country brings to the interface with European institutions and authorities. The Italian public administration should dedicate a staff equal in size to those of other major members, and facilitate its international agility and capacity to exploit opportunities and encourage synergies, especially with Brussels. 

Knowledge, study and analysis of European issues remain crucial most importantly to having a clearly distinguishable voice in the European concert. Moreover, this would also serve to further legitimize those very European institutions, which would certainly draw renewed vigor from a broader and better-informed public debate with citizens.