“Italy strongly supports the inclusion of Romania to the Schengen Area”

Interview with Pietro Grasso, the Speaker of the Italian Senate.
The President of the Italian Senate Pietro Grasso is making an official visit in Romania (December 2-3) during wich he will have a series of meetings with high representatives of the Romanian authorities. On Tuesday he is expected to receive the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the University of Bucharest, during a special ceremony to be held at the headquarters of the Faculty of Law in Bucharest. Mr Grasso kindly answered several questions in a special interview to our newspaper:
European integration is undergoing a particularly critical phase which is characterized by the dilemma between “austerity/solidarity” and “economic union/political union”. To which extent do you consider appropriate these concepts?

I think that it is definitely time to put more emphasis on solidarity and political union, from austerity to growth, from giving importance to the economic union to recognizing the need to build a true political integration. We need to be very careful: today, more than in the past, the process of European integration is at risk and under attack. It has to face many issues of historical relevance, such as the financial and economic crisis, migration flows generated by prolonged conflicts, instability and poverty. Furthermore, threats come also from nationalism, populism and growing sentiments of disaffection towards a project which is often seen as distant from its founding ideals and unable to ensure prosperity and future to its citizens.
I am strongly convinced of the contrary: we need more Europe, more “Union”. The EU must preserve freedom, equality, solidarity, justice, human dignity and, more in general, those principles that have emerged from savagery, totalitarism, persecution, discrimination and war. In order to relaunch the integration process, therefore, we can restart exactly form those core values that represent both our heritage and our future.
Instability in the Middle East and the related growing migratory emergency in the Mediterranean Sea are making clear to the European citizens that there is a set of challenges coming from the outside world, from our neighbors. What are, if there is any, the challenges that the EU citizens are confronted with?
Only by looking at the Mediterranean Sea in a geopolitical perspective, we can understand what kind of threats and opportunities we face. The entire region of the Mediterranean Sea and its Southern shore have been facing for the three years a violent “tsunami” disseminating instability all around the world. Deep geopolitical gaps affect East and West and the Gulf, along old and new dividing lines. The most relevant is the one between the Indian Ocean and the Eastern Mediterranean. Moreover, we have to recall the threats coming from the international Jihad, as well as the revolutions generated by the clash between the sociopolitical structures shaping the old regimes and the young generation. The consequences of this dramatic scenario are complex, in particular for Europe. Weak borders and institutional anarchy create new conditions for the proliferation of trafficking on drugs, human beings and weapons. We have to focus more on the Mediterranean area: the future of our Countries and of the EU as a whole relies on our ability to believe in the full accomplishment of the European “utopia”, for a Continent granting peace, care, rights and fulfillment of human dignity.
How do you see the future of the relations between Italy and Romania?
Italy and Romania are linked by strong and ancient boundaries. Our cultural and economic relations date back to several centuries ago. We share common ideals and values, as the revolutionary turmoils of 1848 proved. At that time, Italians and Romanians supported each others during the fight for national unity. The Italian and the Romanian patriots, starting from Giuseppe Mazzini, fought together for the freedom of our peoples, showing the same values we still stand for. Nowadays, Romanians represent the largest foreign community in Italy and actively participate to our economy, contributing significantly to the wealth of our Country. The accession of Romania to the EU in 2007, strongly supported by Italy, opened opportunities to cooperate in a new way. For example, Romania stands beside Italy in the search for a shared and liable solution to the migratory emergency in the Mediterranean and actively participates to the rescue operations led by Frontex. Italy, on its side, strongly supports the inclusion of Romania to the Schengen Area. I definitely foresee and count on an important future together for our nations.

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