C o m m u n i q u é
The President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, conveyed the following message to the 42nd edition of The European House - Ambrosetti Forum in Villa d'Este:
«The 42nd edition of the Ambrosetti Forum opened at a particularly sorrowful time for the national community, overwhelmed by the earthquake that struck Central Italy on 23 August. Before us are the images of grief and suffering of many fellow-citizens telling us that, once the emergency phase is over, we urgently need a systemic response that might contribute to start off the reconstruction process and the resumption of activities, also economic.
I am convinced that, as has often happened in the past, the business and financial community will know how to dedicate its best energies to solidarity actions but, above all, to drive the rebirth of the affected areas.
The European Union is going through a crucial period, marked by the outcome of the British referendum; a decision that must be respected but that, at the same time, induces us to carefully think over what is happening in Europe and in the world and how to relaunch the construction of the "common house".
This year we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Republic and next year we will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Union with the signing, in Rome, of the Treaty establishing the European Community.
It is fitting to draw a line to connect the two events.
The rebirth of our Country to the values of peace, liberty and democracy is indissolubly linked to the European and Western perspective, the only one capable of fully assuring those values.
The spirit that must inspire European action can be none other than solidarity and communality and fighting authoritarianism, in the same spirit that inspired Altiero Spinelli in the middle of the war, driving him to write the Ventotene Manifesto together with his internally exiled companions.
If it were not aware of sharing a common fate, the European Union would boil down to a mere accounting system or, at the most, a useful framework of reference. This would not be sufficient. Faced with the magnitude of the crises, it is the same European citizens - young and not so young, parents and children - that call for lasting solutions that might enable them to look at the future with greater confidence.
Unless European Union Member States do not prove to be capable of pursuing ambitious choices, there will be a growing probability of dissipating what has been arduously built in over half a century of working together and of backtracking, in the pursuit of short-sighted solutions based on the professed recovery of national sovereignties.
The difficulties we face are so far-reaching and complex - and the world of business perceives these better than any other - that it is impossible for a single country - no matter how socially and economically sound - to overcome them.
The present economic cycle - perhaps now more than in the past - needs a collective stance, the only one that can enable us to regulate the future instead of remaining permanently trapped in the present.
The task is very challenging but not impossible.
In this perspective, a decisive role can be played by revitalizing growth and employment opportunities. The present economic context, which offers only limited perspectives, needs European-wide and national initiatives aimed at relaunching public and private investment - especially in the most innovative sectors - and more assertive government action in promoting structural reform, starting with courageous decisions by EU governing bodies.
This is the frequently invoked transition from common policies to common institutions.
Enhancing growth and employment perspectives is the starting point from which to begin improving social cohesion and the sense of belonging to the European project. It is in fact evident how economic security, welfare and jobs are the crucial concerns of public opinion and how tangible EU-coordinated initiatives can generate a positive effect in offsetting the general disaffection we are now witnessing which is the fruit of a paradox: growing distrust arises from a demand for more Europe and not the opposite; a demand that is evidently not adequately met. The deficit of democracy often reported in relations with the European Union must be offset at European level.
This is where the sensibilities of élites and citizens coincide: meeting daily aspirations can convert into building strong values.
It is significant that the day dedicated to Europe opens with the question of integrating or disintegrating the European Union. The issue cannot be limited to the Old Continent but must rather call into question the growing role that regional aggregations have acquired in terms of global stability and progress. Even international organizations, starting with the World Trade Organization, can do very little in managing the mushrooming of uncoordinated multilateral relations. The negative impact on the growth and development of the global economy, and consequently on the share of possible peace for populations making their debut on the international scene, would be evident should regional unions break apart.
So, it is appropriate to raise the following question: who is to be held responsible? In other words, who is the driving force of Europe?
A debate has been ongoing over the last few months, in which the prevailing opinion seems to reflect the temptation to try the intergovernmental method, which would run counter to the clockwork of history.
Therefore it becomes advisable to remind ourselves that the playmakers of European democracy are its citizens, either individually or in associations, principally through the European Parliament and the political groups that comprise it, the multitude of European civil society organizations, united through their diversity. United because the European Union is in and of itself a guarantee of the national freedoms exercised by their citizens. Peace, liberty, democracy, security and wellbeing are the shared values underpinning the building of Europe and promoting and safeguarding them makes even more sense now that they are being threatened.
This is why relaunching the pro-European spirit is necessary now more than ever, also in combating the threat of terrorism and in successfully managing the drama of migration.
Over the years, the European Union has been capable of endowing itself with a potentially formidable set of instruments. Now it needs to be far-sighted in order to complete the set so as to make it possible to put in place effective common policies that, by bolstering economic growth, social cohesion and full employment, might tangibly consolidate the European ideal.
It is with this hope that I wish all the Forum participants to have a fruitful discussion».
Rome, 3 September 2016