New Europe spoke with Lorenzo Guerini, vice-secretary of the Italian Democratic Party, in Padova, about the outcome of the Bratislava Summit, as well as the immigration challenges faced by Italy and the crucial referendum of the constitutional reform.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was not completely satisfied about the results of the Bratislava EU Council, can you explain why?
We have, in front of us, crucial challenges pushing Europe to find urgently concrete solutions. Immigration and growth are probably the two topics in which the Bratislava EU summit failed to deliver something more in terms of tangible results. I think it was correct and necessary for the Italian government to underline these negative aspects. After that, we ask Europe to be a protagonist, to tackle these problems changing the current growth policies and assisting in a more efficient way those countries managing the “problematic” borders of Europe. Italy is making a big effort saving migrants at sea and welcoming them. That’s why we shouldn’t be left alone in this “civil” battle. We need to work together as Europe to build up relations with the countries which are the “source” of immigration. The proposal to strengthen the bilateral agreements and missions in “hot” areas is going in the right direction because the problems have to be solved in these areas.
Do you see other reasons for not sharing responsibilities?
The discussion is open but sometimes I have the impression that some countries are following more an internal agenda because of their upcoming national elections. We understand this, but we will continue to push for a more “courageous” EU approach on these issues, combined with more effective actions.
Some eastern EU countries received a lot of money from the EU in the past but now they don’t want to share the quotas of migrants. What’s your opinion on that?
I don’t want to be polemic with single member states but here I see a problem of unanimity in the EU action, we need to all be responsible on this issue because the European project is based, not only on receiving something, but also on sharing tasks.
In Italy, at the moment, there are many mayors, also from your party, who are closing the door to refugees. What’s a rational solution for this problem?
In the moment in which we have to manage a large presence of migrants, I think we can handle it responsibly. This is not an emergency for Italy because we are talking about numbers of refugees that are perfectly manageable, if coordinated in the entire country. Everybody has to contribute in this. Then, if many mayors refuse to host the migrants there is clearly the risk to concentrate them in few areas. This is not the right solution. We have to share migrant quotas according to the population and the number of local authorities. I think we can succeed sharing responsibilities as we did in the past.
About the constitutional reform, the No campaigners are saying it was done in a despotic way. How do you react to these accusations?
There isn’t any authoritarian drift, there is a constitutional reform addressing challenges debated for years in Italy and this is the perfect occasion to make important changes. Then I don’t understand someone, who discussed, changed and voted in the parliament the reform with us, voting “no” at the constitutional referendum because of a specific internal political goal. Putting aside the deceptive position changes of Forza Italia, in our democratic party then on this very issue we are assisting the negative phenomenon called “dictatorship of the minority” where a small group is campaigning against this crucial reform.