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The Future of Europe: Matteo Renzi’s speech in Maastricht

In an articulate and lengthy speech recorded on November 9 in Maastricht and broadcast today on his social channels, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Italian senator and president of the “Italia Viva” party, outlined his ideas for the Europe of tomorrow.
“Being in Maastricht today is doubly valuable,” Renzi said, “Maastricht is for my generation the constitutive place of European identity. Being here is an attempt to reflect on the Europe of tomorrow. We are doing this on a special day: on November 9, the Berlin Wall in 1989 was coming down. If Maastricht is the symbol of the economic-institutional path, the fall of the wall is the symbol of what Europe is: a space of freedom, the triumph of freedom against oppression, of democracy against dictatorship.”

 

 

 

Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu
Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu

Then Renzi continued, “Today more than ever the United States of Europe is a goal that is still true and valid for us. I will try to explain why we need a Europe with more speed, not a Europe in which there is the right of veto, a Europe that therefore needs to enlarge not only geographically but to change profoundly in the ways and the rules of the game. A Europe in which there must be direct election of the president of the commission, and commissioners must be an expression not of individual countries but of political choices and the election result. A Europe that gets to the European army, a Europe that has the strength to deal with artificial intelligence not as a threat but as an opportunity to grow GDP, that invests in aerospace and simultaneously makes climate change a battle to be fought, not ideologically but pragmatically and concretely.
A Europe that on medicine and related technological innovation builds a part of its future. This Europe that we want to build is a very different Europe from that of the sovereigntists and populists who speak in slogans.”

An important passage of his speech Renzi dedicated to culture: “It is about terrorism that it is worth spending a word in recounting these 30 years, because there was September 11, 2001, a year that marked the history of the planet. But terrorism also strongly affected our Europe started not from foreign countries, it started from the suburbs, from the banlieues because there the ability to integrate and to integrate was lacking, because not only military and police security was lacking: there was lack of territorial control, but also educational control.” And thus, “If Europe makes sense, it is because it is the Europe of culture. Without the Europe of culture, there is no future for us. Culture is also the key element in defeating terrorism. If we let non-first-generation citizens in the banlieues lose their sense of identity and the cultural value of belonging, if we leave that we lose any kind of credibility as a European Union. There is no European Union without its cultural roots.”

Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu
Website of the European Democrats - https://democrats.eu

Renzi then rattles off concrete proposals, “We need more political means: direct election of the president of the commission, transnational lists, no more vetoes, a multi-speed Europe, fewer commissioners, only 20 commissioners, and less bureaucracy: this is the first package of proposals to deal with. We think that sovereigntists and populists can be defeated not by playing defence but by going on the attack, and therefore the direct election of the president of the commission means more democracy: we think direct election is not an authoritarian drift but is an important democratic breakthrough. “And still NATO is not enough, the European army is needed. And foreign policy is needed: “the foreign policy of the European Union today is not there, it is a ghost, it is a set of bureaucratic documents that do not produce anything. Where is Europe today in the Balkans? Where is Europe today in Palestine and Israel if not in tow of the positions of others? Where is Europe today trying to play a game in Africa?”
And again, on immigration: “The Europe that we imagine the next 30 years of emigration totally changes mode. Immigration must be managed with two basic principles: legality, if you don’t respect the rules, you go home, and at the same time work. We have space to be able to create jobs whose needed figures are not covered. The issue is not to create detention centers for migrants, the issue is to create training centers for migrants. “On labor: A model of labor that leads to fight poverty not with subsidies: a model of development that leads Europe to value labor, to pay it better, to reduce taxation for companies. On health care: “the first form of fighting poverty is health care that is equal for all, health care where you can get to get an urgent medical exam at the same time, whether you are rich or poor.”

The conclusion is on the Europe of Dreamers: “I believe that what lies ahead is a very complex but fascinating path. When 30 years ago in Maastricht the leaders of the 12 countries decided to sign the Maastricht Treaty, they probably never imagined how far enormous a path Europe could take. That road today is no longer sufficient. We are not the Europe that remembers the insights of the fathers, we are the Europe that wants to cherish the dreams of the children. For every Ulysses who innovates, there is a Telemachus who is called upon to preserve and relaunch that legacy: that Telemachus is us, or rather it is the young people of the new generation who 30 years from now in Maastricht will be able to tell how the European Union has returned to play a role between the United States and China, how it has become a protagonist in Africa, how it has built peace from Jerusalem to Taiwan, how it has created jobs with artificial intelligence, how it has remained proud of its cultural roots. If we are able to do this, Europe will have a future: we want to imagine a tomorrow of Europe that is a tomorrow of hope and not just memories.”

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