On 1 July, Italy, led by its Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, officially started its 12th mandate for the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union.
Helen Brand, OBE, Chief Executive of ACCA, says: 'The Italian presidency is taking place at a very particular moment. This is the beginning of the new European Parliament (EP)’s legislature, most pending dossiers have been closed before the elections. In addition, a new European Commission is to be formed in November, and with the summer EP recess, the Italian Presidency will only be left with a few months of concrete Council work and trilogue possibilities before the end of its mandate in December. This means that the challenges to be faced by Italy will be of a more political nature than those of its two predecessors, Greece and Lithuania, who had to deal with a notable amount of technical files before the EU elections.'
Prime Minister Renzi already indicated his commitment to push for a targeted reform agenda essentially focusing on growth and long-term investment in the EU, creating the right conditions for the Stability and Growth Pact to be implemented. This commitment is welcomed by ACCA. For the global accountancy body, growth and employment are two inextricably connected founding values of Europe.
Helen Brand explains: 'The results of the recent European elections and the rise of Eurosceptic parties showed that EU decision-makers need to regain the confidence of European citizens. We therefore share the Italian Presidency’s ambitious objective to move ‘from austerity to full-blown growth policies,' in Prime Minister Renzi’s words.
'It is crucial to successfully complete the transition from the implementation of restrictive policies - imposed by the crisis to safeguard financial stability and return to sustainable public finances, to new reliable, sound and growth-enhancing recovery measures, aimed at fostering competitiveness, investment, jobs and prosperity' Helen Brand adds.
'At ACCA, we believe that it is vital to put in place the right framework, with sufficient legal certainty, to enable the real economy to get back to its feet. To that end, Small and Medium Size Entities (SMEs) - which represent around two-thirds of employment and nearly 60% of the value added in the EU - should be placed at the heart of the EU’s economic recovery plan. We hope that the Italian presidency, in collaboration with Member States, as well as the new European Commission and Parliament, will be able – and be given the means - to deliver its ambitious programme' Helen Brand concludes.