Italy to push for 'United States of Europe' when it holds the EU presidency
Italy will use its presidency of the European Union to push for a "United States of Europe," the prime minister has said
Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister, has said that Italy will push for a "United States of Europe" during its six-month EU presidency, in a move likely to raise hackles in Britain.
Launching an appeal to convince European leaders to show "that a stronger and more cohesive Europe is the only solution to the solve the problems of our time", Mr Renzi said: "For my children's future I dream, think and work for the United States of Europe."
He further called for "courageous leaders" to work towards achieving that goal - something that Britain has always objected to. In 1988 Margaret Thatcher, then prime minister, dismissed the idea that the United States might be a model for the future of Europe and David Cameron is actively trying to prevent the election of a committed federalist, Jean-Claude Juncker, to the head of the European Commission.
Italy takes over the rotating EU presidency from Greece on July 1. Its job will be to steer the EU at a time when the so-called "European Project" is coming under renewed attack, in the wake of an EU-wide surge in support for Eurosceptic parties in the recent European elections.
Mr Renzi, whose country will preside over the EU until December, said the only effective response to the outcome of the European elections is to offer "an idea of Europe that corresponds to an attractive adventure, rather than just a financial or economic exercise." He said it was vital to show that the EU "is not only a common past but a common destiny."
Two other pillars of the Italian presidency will be the push for growth over austerity, and greater help with the migration crisis in the Mediterranean. More than 50,000 people have arrived in Italy by boat from North Africa this year.
Mr Renzi's comments, in a speech in Florence last week, come amid a growing storm over the nomination of Mr Juncker as president of the European Commission. David Cameron will call for a vote from fellow EU leaders at Thursday's summit in Ypres if there is an attempt to rubber-stamp Mr Juncker in the role. Mr Cameron opposes the candidacy of the former prime minister of Luxembourg, whom he sees as preventing EU reforms and is seen by some as a politician with an instinct for ever-closer European integration.
Meanwhile, the incoming Italian presidency has caused a stir after ruling that its official website will only be published in English and Italian, meaning it will not be translated into French or German for the first time since 2007.
In order to save money, it will not be translated into any of the other 24 official languages of the EU.
The decision shows how English has become increasingly dominant in EU communications, especially when compared to the European Commission's two other official working languages - French and German.
Since 2007, all EU presidencies made a point of offering multilingual websites and always included German, French, English and their national language.
During their presidency in 2008, France translated their website into Polish, Spanish and Italian. In 2010, Spain also produced versions in their main regional languages of Catalan, Basque and Galatian.
Despite a tight budget, the official Greek website has still offered four languages: Greek and the three EU working languages, English, French and German.
Italy's decision has angered some MEPs.
Michèle Rivasi, the leader of the French Greens in the European Parliament, said: "It's a disgrace. Considering the rise of Euroscepticism in wake of the European elections, this decision almost comes as provocation."
According to the French MEP, budget cuts do not justify the decision to leave out French and German.
"Cuts could have been made elsewhere, for example, on the presidency's subsistence costs or on transport. We will call on the presidency of the Parliament to address this issue." Telegraph