Bursting the Bubble

Italian Presidency Priorities: An Early Outlook

3 February 2014 | by

When the Italian Minister for European Affairs, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, presented his annual review of Italy’s participation in EU matters earlier this year, he did so with a slight twist. In reference to the upcoming Italian presidency, he shed light on some of the priorities that Italy will engage in during its term due to run from July to December 2014. The report, presented on 10 January to the Italian Council of Ministers and on 22 January to the Italian Parliament, suggests that five areas will form the core of the Italian Presidency’s priorities. For all the non-Italian speakers out there, these areas are outlined below.


1. General institutional set-up of the Union

The first point of the report mentions that the Italian Presidency will concentrate its efforts on enhancing the democratic components of Union decision-making procedures. Furthermore, the key focus of the Italian Presidency will be placed on growth and employment, especially in light of the Horizon 2020 priorities and with a special focus on the digital agenda. Lastly, in terms of general institutional set-up, the Italian Presidency proposes to oversee the implementation of the Single Supervisory Mechanism and the Single Resolution Mechanism in order to guide the practical creation of the Banking Union. In that framework, it also proposes measures to incentivize structural reforms and bring about the mutualization of debt among Member States.

2. External action and trade

The report stresses the need for the EU to enhance its common defence policy. Furthermore, major progress on the enlargement process is envisaged during the Presidency, with a particular focus on key advancements on Western Balkans accession talks. In terms of trade, the Italian Presidency wishes to notably advance, and if possible sign, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership during its mandate.

3. Industrial policy

In terms of industrial policy, the first aspect stressed by the report is the elaboration of a plan for European SMEs. In particular, the Italian Presidency will concentrate its efforts on measures to enhance credit access and financing for SMEs. This action will be enshrined in a broader policy of growth and innovation for the European industrial sector which will be devised in more detail following the publication of the conclusions reached by the European Council of February 2014 on the theme.

4. Migration

In continuity with the priorities of the Greek Presidency, the report stresses that the Italian Presidency will strengthen the EU areas of freedom, security and justice, and the common migration policy. The tools that will particularly constitute cause for discussion during the Presidency will be the reinforcement of FRONTEX, enhanced cooperation with migration origin and transit countries, and the fight against illegal immigration by means of a more coherent policy on legal migration.

5. Link to Expo 2015

The fifth point mentioned in the report is a rather promotional one, and that is the creation of a direct link between the Italian Presidency and the Milan 2015 Expo. In particular, the Italian Presidency envisages hosting some of the high level meetings in Milan, including Council meetings concerning agriculture, energy and the environment. Considering the theme of the Expo, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life”, it is likely that one of the priority areas of the Italian Presidency will also be food policy in its broader sense. In particular, food labeling and origin labeling, as well as control of the food chain and nutrition, are likely to constitute key themes in legislative terms.

6. Taxation matters

The last theme mentioned in the report is that of financial and taxation matters. The report mentions that the Italian Presidency will consider the reform of the VAT system as a priority, along with the energy tax and the financial transaction tax. In terms of tax evasion, the Italian Presidency will attempt to bring key advances, in particular by revising the legislation on administrative cooperation between fiscal agencies. For the same purpose, traceability of payments will also be a core priority, especially through the legislation regarding the information accompanying the transfer of funds which is currently being debated in the ECON and LIBE parliamentary committees.


The first outlook of the Italian presidency priorities reveals, therefore, a program that takes after recent presidencies, in particular the Greek one, but also adds some elements of novelty – the link with Expo 2015 above all but also the intention of a reform of the EU institutional and procedural set-up. Whether these intentions will be concretized will be revealed when a more detailed program is published, likely to occur in late May.


  1. I think two priorities are shareable more than others: the Bank Union and a common migration policy. What about a common defence policy? What about an European plan for the industrial growth? Both are also shareable, but without a real common policy, a real democratic federal system it is hard to believe that this time the Italian Presidency will be fundamental for our European destiny.

  2. Emanuele

    Agree, but I must say that reading the program in Italian there is a slight hint of a very discrete intention to reform the institutional set-up in a more communitarized way (I don’t want to say federalist as it is still far from it). I think the intention to reinforce the role of the Parliament goes very much in that direction. Let’s see how much they will stick to this intention though!

  3. World Migration Day

    In 5 months ( Jan-May 2015 ), some 50,000 migrants from North Africa , crossed Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats, to land on shores of Italy
    That is some 10,000 per month ( soon reaching 100,000 per month ? )
    Irrespective of EU countries’ decision to admit only 20,000 per year , by 2020 this figure could reach 1 MILLION per month !
    Why this huge migration ?

    Apparent reasons :

    > ISIL is terrorizing Syria / Iraq
    > Boko Haram are doing the same in Nigeria
    > Houthies are following both in Yemen
    > Libya is facing a civil war
    > North and South Sudans are at war
    > Tunisia is boiling with massive unrest
    > Taliban is rearing its ugly head in Afghanistan
    > Egypt is simmering with angst against Muslim Brotherhood
    > Pakistan is becoming terrorists’ training ground
    > Turkey / Lebanon / Jordan are getting overrun with refugees
    > All over Mid-East , Shias and Sunnis are fighting
    In short , most of African and Mid-East countries are exploding with local wars , under Europe’s soft underbelly and porous right borders

    Real reasons :

    Millions of citizens of these countries are facing unemployment and consequent starvation ( when not getting killed by terrorists )
    It is no different with migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar trying to find shelter in Indonesia / Philippines / Australia / Thailand

    Closer At Home :

    Of entire World’s 800 million ” mal-nourished ” ( euphemism for ” starving ” ) people , 200 million are in India
    Only , instead of calling them ” Starving ” people , we choose to call them , ” Naxalites / Maoists ” etc !
    We fail to realize that there can be no political solution to ” Starvation ” !
    Where can they migrate ? There is no ” Promised Land ” on India’s borders !

    Solution ?

    Since no developed country wants to admit migrants from poor countries , let UNO declare , Antarctica as ” United States of Migrants ” – USM
    And fix quotas of migrants that each poor country can dispatch to USM each year ( roughly in proportion to ” Starving ” population of each poor country )
    Then contribute funds for creating settlements in Antarctica ( – in any case , due to Global Warming , ice-shelves are melting and soon Antarctica will become habitable ) .

    For the rich countries , this would be the most , economically and socially viable solution

    Let a beginning be made by declaring 27 June , as

    ” World Migration Day ”

    hemen parekh
    09 June 2015

What do you think?