April 14. 2024. 6:25

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Spanish PM visits Meloni in Rome

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in Rome on Wednesday to meet with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who welcomed him at Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the government.

The Spanish leader has been visiting several countries in a political “tour” over the past few weeks in preparation for the Spanish European Council presidency scheduled for the second half of 2023.

“There are many convergences between Italy and Spain, a particularly important relationship in view of the Spanish presidency of the European Council. There is a need for Europe to give effective and immediate answers”, Meloni said at the joint press conference at the end of the meeting.

Meloni stressed that Italy would be with Spain as long as the Stability and Growth Pact is reformed within this year to give growth “sufficient attention”.

“We will work together for this goal […] It is important that there are no double standards: as we went fast on state aid, we trust the same speed on flexibility on the use of existing funds and the sovereign wealth fund to support European industries”, Meloni clarified.

President Sanchez remarked on the “living and strong bonds” between Italy and Spain: “I think the only mistake made in the past was to see politics as competition. If we share many things, Europe will be stronger”.

“The will of the Spanish government is to take Italian-Spanish relations forward. (…) We agree with Meloni on the reform of the European economic governance by the end of the year”, Sanchez clarified.

For the Spanish prime minister, protested by a group of Spanish university students at the end of the meeting, we also need a reform of the energy market, “of European regulations on how the price is set in Europe, to protect families but also against the threat to the deindustrialisation of Europe, which is unacceptable”.

During the talks, Meloni and Sanchez addressed the issue of immigration in the EU – among the most pressing problems for the Italian government.

“We have made progress in Europe: it is a European problem and needs a European solution. But it needs adequate resources: Italy and Spain must talk less about the internal dimension and talk more about the external dimension, about collaboration with transit countries of origin”, Sanchez said.

Meloni expects a “change of pace” when it comes to education and remarked that thanks to her government, the EU has begun to look more closely at the migration phenomenon, which involves southern European countries and, in particular, Italy as a country of the first landing.

“We agree that in June from the Commission, there will be a status on concrete initiatives starting with funding and finding structural solutions with the countries of North Africa”, Meloni added.

The war in Ukraine was also among the issues discussed.

“We will continue our all-around support for President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people as long as necessary. We also hope for steps to foster a just peace that respects territorial integrity,” Meloni said at the end of the meeting with Sanchez.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)