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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Statement by President Barroso following the meeting with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti

Press conference

Brussels , 22 November 2011

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed a personal pleasure for me to receive in Brussels the new Prime Minister of Italy, Mr Mario Monti. I really want to thank you for coming to Brussels so soon after your nomination. I think we can read this as a signal of your commitment to the European Union and to the European Institutions.

Let me congratulate you once again on your appointment and on the support you have received from a large majority of both chambers of the Italian Parliament. It shows that in these times of crisis and despite huge economic head-winds, Italy is determined to tackle its enormous challenges once and for all.

Your government's programme focuses on fiscal consolidation, growth and social equity. We believe this programme correctly addresses the challenges faced by Italy - huge, but surmountable challenges. Moreover the programme of your government builds on the important measures already presented and discussed at the euro summit of 26-27 October. It contains ambitious initiatives, for example on pensions, property taxation, labour market and institutional reform. It also crucially addresses the issue of tax evasion.

We believe i ts success will depend on three elements:

  • the determination to strictly implement the measures;

  • the ability to achieve and maintain the large primary surplus that would put the high government debt on a steadily declining path.

  • and last but not least, the determination to increase the country's growth potential by tackling the deep-rooted structural weaknesses.

I am confident that Italy will pass this difficult test. This is what the citizens, the markets, the European Union and also our international partners expect and hope for. Indeed Europe and the world have their eyes on Italy. It is important that a timely and objective assessment of Italy's economic reform actions is carried out and made public. The Commission has received a mandate from the last Euro Summit to make such an assessment. The Commission's team was in Rome early this month, we report our findings to the Eurogroup. We will return soon to Rome. I am absolutely sure that we will continue to benefit from the full collaboration of the Italian authorities now under the leadership of Prime Minister Mario Monti.

Let me conclude by a personal remark: I have known Mario Monti for several years now. It was not by accident that I personally chose him and invited him to set out a vision for the single market in May 2010. I know he is a very committed, competent, experienced politician, a very committed Italian and European. He has my full confidence and high personal esteem. Mario Monti has the authority to guide Italy through this difficult moment with a sense of urgency and direction. The fact that he was able to gather the cross-party support for the important reforms Italy needs is a real proof of what I just said.

So Mr Prime Minister, dear Mario, I wish you all the best to lay the ground for a stable, strong and prosperous Italy at the heart of the European Union. Italy is in the hearts of all of us Europeans. After all it was in Rome that we had the Treaty that founded our Community and we know the deep attachment of Italy to our common project. I know also your deep attachment to this common project and we need this kind of committed leadership at all levels in our Union. I am sure that you, your government and Italy will succeed! You can count on the Commission's full support.

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