At the beginning of July Italy assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. Despite being new to European mechanism and meetings, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has the chance to exploit a situation in which, together with Germany, he is one of the few leaders guiding a pro-Europe government after the most Eurosceptic elections Bruxelles last May experienced in its history.
According to Silvia Francescon, the Head of the Rome Office of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), coordinating the Presidency won't be an easy task for Italy. The economic background of Europe remains uncertain. The consequences of the global financial crisis are still there: markets and growth rates remain unstable, unemployment is raising, and numerous crisis are pressing Europe from a foreign policy perspective as well.
During its six months presidency, among Italy's priorities there will be for sure the one of keeping public debt under control, attract more investments in R&D areas, and focus on employment. In the meanwhile, Premier Renzi will also have to enact his "European Plan" that Dr. Francescon clearly summarized in three points.
1) Growth and development, pushing Europe to implement structural reforms and to better regulate the common market, especially for services and energy. Growth, employment, digitalization and the strengthening of the monetary union were listed among today's priorities, too.
2) The European model has to be relaunched focusing on loyalty and commitment rather than on austerity, only.
3) Europe needs to be recognized as a regional and global actor, otherwise it will be impossible to solve the numerous crises that recently exploded, from the Middle East to Ukraine, from Turkey to Eastern enlargement and transatlantic relations.
According to Dr. Francescon, Italy has no interest in changing European rules, but the order of its priorities needs to be modified. According to Premier Renzi, flexibility is critical to improve European performances, as no matter how important austerity is, it is not able to solve all European problem itself.