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Spain and Italy commit to speeding up banking, fiscal, economic and political union

Villa Madama, Rome, Monday 27 January 2014
Rajoy asiste en Roma a la Cumbre Italo-Española
EFE

The President of the Government, Mariano Rajoy, confirmed after his meeting with the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic, Enrico Letta, that the two countries also agreed to undertake a joint action vis-à-vis the European institutions to drive industrial policy and promote youth employment.

During the joint press conference held in Rome at the end of the 18th bilateral Italy-Spain Summit, the two leaders declared their agreement on the European agenda.

In this regard, the President of the Spanish Government commented that the two countries are in agreement and will work together to "continue along the path of European, economic, fiscal and political integration", as well as to "speed up the implementation of banking union".

Mariano Rajoy confirmed that Spain and Italy want "banking union to become a reality as soon as possible since it is an essential instrument for overcoming market fragmentation and the difficulties of SMEs gaining access to credit".

For his part, Enrico Letta highlighted that it is necessary that the single bank resolution mechanism is approved during the Italian Rotating Presidency of the European Union, which starts in June. "It would be a mistake to delay it. This is the message that Italy and Spain want to get across", he said.

The President of the Spanish Government reported that they also agreed at the meeting to implement a joint action vis-à-vis the European institutions to drive industrial policy and promote youth employment throughout the European Union beyond the instruments that are already in place. "Our main objective remains combating youth unemployment and supporting SMEs, which play an essential role in the European economy, both in terms of added value and employment", he said.

The two countries will also coordinate actions vis-à-vis the European Council in March, at which issues such as industrial policy, climate change and the EU's energy policy will be tackled.

The President of the Government recalled that energy in the US is half the price of the EU as a whole. "This is a fundamental element of competitiveness for our industry and the creation of jobs, and it is a matter that we must pay close attention to", he pointed out.

Employment and reforms

Rajoy asiste en Roma a la Cumbre Italo-Española
Pool Moncloa / Free access

During his appearance, the President of the Government stated that he is "absolutely convinced that 2014 will be a year of economic growth and job creation in many countries in the European Union and that, in 2015, this situation will be definitively consolidated".

In his opinion, exiting the crisis requires greater economic and political integration and, to that end, it is necessary to have an agenda of national and European reforms.

"We are going to continue applying our ambitious agenda of reforms, from which we are starting to see the first positive results during this term of office. I understand that the Italian Government is working along the same lines and I wish Enrico Letta the very best success from the conviction that we can only exit this crisis by presenting a united front", he declared.

Mariano Rajoy reiterated that nobody is now in any doubts about the existence of the Euro, there is not so much talk these days about the risk premiums and nobody is talking about anyone being bailed out. "Talk is of the start of a period of growth and the stabilisation of the employment situation, and I believe that we can view the future with certain hope, although all governments will have to continue making major efforts".

Immigration and international policy

Rajoy asiste en Roma a la Cumbre Italo-Española
EFE

Mariano Rajoy explained that Spain and Italy are also requesting greater involvement from the European Union on the matter of immigration, as well as aid for the countries of origin. In his opinion, "the EU has sufficient economic capacity, power and strength to help improve these countries".

The situation in countries such as Syria, Iran, Libya and Ukraine were also tackled at the meeting, as well as the Israel-Palestine peace process.

On another note, Mariano Rajoy and Enrico Letta signed an agreement on Spain's participation at the Milan 2015 EXPO, due to take place between 1 May and 31 October 2015.

Current affairs

Rajoy asiste en Roma a la Cumbre Italo-Española
Pool Moncloa / Free access

In response to questions from the media about the works on the Panama Canal, Mariano Rajoy commented that the government is following the negotiations under way and hopes that a solution can be reached "soon". He believes that we should all commit to the works being concluded according to schedule, since any impasse would be "seriously prejudicial and should not occur".

Along these lines, Enrico Letta hopes that a "just and fair" solution can be found quickly and added that, to that end, the Ministers for Public Works from both countries are working closely together.

As regards any possible repercussion of the Argentinean currency crisis on the European markets, the President of the Spanish Government hopes that the situation in Argentina "stabilises as soon as possible", and underlined that it is a great country and a partner, with which we have all kinds of relations and in which Spanish companies have made major investments with the intention of maintaining a long-term presence there. Regardless of this, he highlighted that "the Euro is strong and powerful enough to move forward".

In terms of the future of Europe, the President of the Spanish Government said that "this is based on Europe being its home and a space of peace, coexistence, liberty, civilisation and progress". It represents 25% of world GDP and, in his opinion, the European process is "by good fortune, irreversible".

He also expressed his wish to see, following the upcoming European elections, the new Parliament full of pro-Europeans, since it would be paradoxical to see the most powerful Parliament ever with the most Euro-sceptics ever.

As regards the decision by Jaime Mayor Oreja not to stand as a candidate for the PP in the European Parliament, Mariano Rajoy praised his work, and recalled that he has now been working at this institution for ten years and declared his respect for this decision. The President of the Government completely differentiated the decision taken by Jaime Mayor Oreja from that of Vidal Quadras to abandon the PP, which on Monday he received news of from the media.