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EDP MEPs tell us why they chose to fight for Europe

"Languages, cultures, regional differences and local initiatives must be cherished because they are Europe’s strongest asset."

A renewed European leadership, looking from Berlin, Paris and Rome to Brussels and the future challenges for the Union.

Sandro Gozi

In the European level, France is preparing to hold the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union from 1 January to 30 June 2022. The Presidency of the Council of the EU organises meetings, draws up compromises, issues conclusions and ensures the consistency and continuity of the decision-making process. It ensures good cooperation between all Member States and manages the Council's relations with the European institutions, in particular the Commission and the European Parliament.

These are the terms of a renewed European leadership, which from Berlin, Paris and Rome looks to Brussels and the future challenges for the Union.

Coffee break with Sandro Gozi, Renew Europe MEP and Secretary General of the European Democratic Party.

Q: Dear Sandro, how do you assess Chancellor Scholz's programme, in its European federalist promises?

A: The programme of the new German government presented by Chancellor Scholz is worthy of support because it contains interesting points for those who claim to be reformers and convinced pro-Europeans. The programme states: "A European Union that is democratically stronger, more capable of action and strategically sovereign is the basis for our peace, prosperity and freedom. It is within this framework that we address the great challenges of our time. We will use the Conference on the Future of Europe for reform. We support the necessary changes to the Treaties. The Conference should lead to a Constituent Convention and the further development of a European federal state, which is decentralised and organised in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality and based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights." And further: "We want to strengthen the European Parliament, e.g. with regard to the right of initiative, preferably in the Treaties, otherwise on an inter-institutional level. We support a single European electoral law with partially transnational lists. We will use and extend qualified majority voting in the Council." For someone like me who has always been a European federalist, reading words such as reform of the Treaties, a constituent convention and a European federal state in the programme really bodes well.

Q: In January 2022, the French Presidency of the Council of the EU takes place: what are your priorities?

A: Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron told journalists that the French Presidency of the European Union aims to "move towards a powerful Europe in the world, a fully sovereign Europe, free in its choices and able to dominate its own destiny". Emmanuel Macron wants a Europe capable of controlling its borders and will therefore introduce a reform of the Schengen free movement area. France intends to defend our social model in Europe, conceiving a model of production but also of solidarity: an exceptional summit will be held in March around a new European model of growth and investment. Emmanuel Macron also said he wanted a six-month European civic service for all young people under 25. The French president then promised to reconcile climate ambitions and economic development and outlined plans for a new carbon tax at the EU's borders. Plans to turn Europe into a digital powerhouse were announced: two legislative packages, the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act, are currently underway at EU level and will be top priorities of the French presidency. On the rule of law debate that has divided Western and Eastern Europe, Emmanuel Macron warned that these are existential issues that cannot be negotiated.

Q: How will the balance of European politics change with the new 'traffic light' coalition in Germany and in view of the upcoming presidential elections in France?

A: Fundamental to the majority that supports the new German government is the contribution of the Greens and Liberals, two forces as central in Germany as Italia Viva in Italy. The coalition with the SPD will hopefully give new impetus to the process of European integration, with a view to a renewed communion of intentions between France and Germany, but this time leaving room for other member states to play a leading role: in this sense Italy, led by Mario Draghi, must and will play its part as best it can. Of course, having Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace for another five years, the first promoter of the Conference on the Future of Europe and a convinced pro-European, will also be fundamental: a strategic game for the future balance and destiny of France and Europe will be played out in the spring.

Q: What role for Italy, also following the recent signing of the Quirinale Treaty between Mario Draghi and Emmanuel Macron?

A: We have seen that the conditions are in place for Germany to finally give a positive response to the French proposal for a Europe that is once again in charge of its own destiny, which Emmanuel Macron has been pursuing since the beginning of his term of office, and that Italy should also join in this project. The Draghi government has restored Italy's enormous credibility and authority in Europe. On 26 November Mario Draghi and Emmanuel Macron signed in Rome the Quirinal Treaty - for which I have personally and politically worked so hard since 2017 - which states that "The Parties shall act together for a democratic, united and sovereign Europe and for the development of strategic autonomy". The Berlin-Paris-Rome tripod, with the work carried out by the great Europeanist party families of socialists, center-right and liberals, is in my opinion the basis on which to build the Europe of the present and the future.

Read the full interview on the Italia Viva website.