Growth and employment, strengthening citizens’ rights and a stronger role for Europe in the world will be Italy’s priorities during its 6-month presidency of the EU.
The Italian presidency coincides with the first 6 months of a new European Parliament - elected in May - and the start of a new trio of presidencies, with Latvia and Luxembourg to follow Italy. The 3 governments have drawn up the work programme for the EU Council's next 18 months.
Growth and employment
Italy wants to encourage structural reforms and innovation in EU countries. The aim is to encourage an “industrial renaissance” to tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness. There will be a particular focus on small businesses and on energy and climate policy in the run-up to 2030.
Italy also plans to promote investment in sectors vital for the future of children, such as environmental protection, infrastructure and digital services.
Sustainable development is another key issue, and will feature at Expo Milano 2015, the theme of which is “Feeding the planet. Energy for life”.
A Europe closer to its citizens
In response to growing disillusionment with European integration, the presidency wants to cut red tape and promote transparency, accountability and digitalisation, to ensure effective cooperation between the EU institutions.
Italy wants a more active role for the EU in areas where it can add value, such as the protection of fundamental rights and migration and asylum policy. Conversely, it wants less EU activity in areas more effectively dealt with at national, regional or local level.
Europe on the international stage
The presidency believes EU foreign policy needs a broader-based approach to tackling regional and global challenges. The regions bordering on the EU - particularly the Mediterranean - will be the main focus for action.
The transition process in North Africa and the Middle East peace process will require ongoing support, and Italy will also focus on new association agreements with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
Trade negotiations will also be on the agenda, with Italy hoping to encourage progress on talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US.