French and Italian ministers: EU must be tangible for everyone, everywhere

European Union – Joint article by Mme Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Mr Vincenzo Amendola, Italian Minister for European Affairs, in the daily newspaper L’Opinion

Paris, 4 October 2019

These are important times for the common destiny of European citizens: there is not just a new Commission, a budget which will finance the EU’s priorities for seven years is also being negotiated, there is the challenge of jointly managing migration flows, and a new European Green Deal for the environment has been announced with a view to implementing the Paris Agreement in full.

Our two countries firmly believe it is now absolutely necessary to carry out these policies not just for citizens, but also – and above all – with them. To talk about these policies in practical terms and develop them through dialogue, whilst listening not just to their needs and plans but also their concerns.

Emmanuel Macron and Giuseppe Conte therefore believe that a conference on the future of Europe could help those who live as Europeans on a daily basis to become more involved in it. For this reason, we are pushing for the new commissioners to come and discuss their agenda with citizens, on the ground, as soon as they take office.

Because our two countries’ special responsibility today is to carry forward the European project in opposition to those who want to weaken it. Making Europe tangible for everyone, everywhere, means setting ourselves the task of fighting extremism by means of results, not promises.

The other thing we both firmly believe is that European policy should not be framed only in Brussels, but locally. Our joint mission, beyond the discussions between capitals, is to see together, on the ground, how this can become a reality for our fellow citizens. This is why, instead of meeting in Paris or Rome, we chose Naples. We chose to meet its students, entrepreneurs and players who live as Europeans on a daily basis.

We are certain that the message from the people we meet will be rooted in the deep, unshakeable friendship between our peoples. This is palpably obvious, political differences and – sometimes – divergences aside. This friendship requires us, more than ever, to address the concerns which our citizens, who gave birth to the European Community, have always shared.

Responding to their legitimate concern in recent months, we reached an agreement together in Valletta for a mechanism to automatically relocate those landing in the Central Mediterranean area. This is a first step towards a mutually supportive, long-term European management of migration, which will be supported by appropriate financial tools in the next European budget.

To build a prosperous Europe benefiting all, we reaffirm our commitment to strengthening solidarity within the Euro Area by deepening Economic and Monetary Union, through the creation of a Euro Area budget promoting convergence. We want to encourage investment in tomorrow’s economy, tackle unemployment and put in place an innovative European industrial policy which can deal with international competition.

To build a Europe increasingly protective of its unique natural environment, together we lend our firm, concrete support to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. And to protect its heritage, we want to make progress together on a European mechanism to preserve European heritage, from Notre-Dame to Pompeii.

Italy and France are determined to work with European institutions and other member states to take forward this common agenda to benefit every European citizen./.

Published on 08/01/2020

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