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An Evaluation of the Italian Presidency of the EU Council

An overview of Italian achievements, contributions and forthcoming challenges

An Evaluation of the Italian Presidency of the EU Council

Claudia Astarita

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Last December marked the end of the Italian six-months presidency of the European Union (EU). All in all, it was a chance to give new priorities to the EU governance with a great focus on economic growth, employment and competitiveness.

According to Sandro Gozi, the Premiership's under-secretary with mandate for European Affairs, Italy succeeded in stressing the importance of investments, growth and employment as the first steps for a new start. Mr Gozi believes Italy contributed to help the EU to define its new role in the Mediterranean, promoting the operation "Triton" to favour a joint approach to the migration issue. With Triton, for the first time it has been officially recognized that frontiers 30 miles away from Italian shores are European borders, where the EU is called to intervene.

According to Mr Gozi, during the Italian presidency, the country tried its best to mediate between Russia and Ukraine, fostering an agreement on gas. The enforcement of the rule of law was another key topic of the semester, pointing out a greater need to respect human rights and fundamental freedom within the EU. A further achievement was the 2030 Climate and Energy Policy, aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving sustainable energy use and efficiency. Finally, Federica Mogherini's appointment as the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on November 2014 was also a great success.

Even if the EU has still a lot to do in order to improve its performance in a great variety of fields, it seems fair to say that Italian presidency gave to inputs and brought to light uncomfortable issues ignored for too long.  However, as highlighted by Gianni Bonvicini, the vice president of the Rome based think tank Istituto Affari Internazionali, Italy has been unable to help Europe to face its major challenge: increase its political cohesion, strengthening the relationship (and trust) between the European Commission and the European Council.

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