‘Now it’s time to change the EU’: Matteo Renzi

Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said the country will play a stronger role in the EU and will have a greater influence on policy after his party’s landslide victory in the European elections.

'Now it's time to change the EU': Matteo Renzi
Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi said the country will have a stronger influence over EU policies. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

His centre-left Democratic Party (PD) claimed 40.8 percent of the vote, giving the party the highest number of MEPs among Europe’s leftists.

“Italy is here and is stronger than the fears that traverse it,” he was quoted in Corriere della Sera as saying.

“Now our strength will help change Europe. We are no longer in tow.”

Renzi added that Italy now has the strength to play a pivotal role in shaping EU policy.

Bill Emmott, the former editor of The Economist and director of Girlfriend in a Coma, a documentary about the good and bad sides of Italy, has said that “Italy looks a lot better” after the EU elections compared to other countries within the union.

In a comment piece on his website, Emmott said that Renzi’s success against Beppe Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi, and the hope among Italians that their “very new prime minister might bring about the change they need”, could now also be an inspiration for Europe.

“Mr Renzi stands for everything that European voters clearly want: new, outside the old political elites, young, reformist, energetic, full of hope,” he said.

“Whether he eventually disappoints Italian voters we will have to wait to see. But for now let’s focus on what this means for Europe.”

Italy takes over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from July 1st.

Renzi said he wanted to use the six-month presidency as a way to challenge the EU and influence policy "so that it is no longer seen as the champion of austerity and pointless rules", and that it moves towards the role of "boosting growth and jobs", he was cited by ANSA news agency as saying.

Emmott said that Renzi should use the role to help the council find "energy" and a "sense of purpose, a new face and a language of action and hope". 

"What Mr Renzi has shown is that voters respond positively to energy, a sense of purpose, a new face, a language of action and hope," he added.

"So that is what the EU now also must find, and fast. And as European Council president, Mr Renzi ought surely to help it find those things."

In order to achieve this, Emmott said Renzi would be "well advised to cut back the usually long agenda and announce a focus on a few big topics, just as he did when he arrived in Palazzo Chigi."

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