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(en anglais)


In his office at the Italian embassy in Brussels, Maurizio Massari, Italy’s ambassador to the EU, told POLITICO’s Jacopo Barigazzi that the U.K.’s exit from the EU must not be an excuse to avoid much-needed work overhauling the eurozone. “Brexit cannot be an alibi to avoid going ahead on more challenging dossiers like the eurozone reform … it cannot and it must not delay them,” he said, adding that completing the banking union “is the first step, but we cannot exclude the fiscal union of the eurozone.” He also described the Commission’s proposal to create a European Monetary Fund and European finance minister as “a very good basis to deepen the debate.”

Migration reform: He dismissed suggestions that a deal on migration reform is out of reach due to irreconcialable divisions between the Visegrad 4 countries and Italy, saying: “We have facilitated the progress on the different regulations.” Even so, “solidarity is a key principle of a democratic union, it cannot be just voluntary or transactional. We need the reform of Dublin and Italy will work for it. Each member state however has to make some compromise.”

Russia sanctions: Italy, which traditionally takes a dovish line towards Russia, backed an extension of sanctions against Moscow at last week’s summit of EU leaders for another six months. Massari said when EU leaders discuss Russia in June, it should be a moment to relaunch the dialogue with Moscow. “Strategic dialogue must be reactivated … in a way that is feasible for the European Union,” he said, adding that sanctions can be in place at the same time discussions are under way. The hope, he said, is that “with a more substantial dialogue, we can also restore a climate of greater trust that can bring a more concrete collaboration also on the Ukrainian dossier.”

Pro-Europeans: Recent surveys suggest former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Democratic Party is losing steam ahead of next year’s election, with the Euroskeptic 5Star Movement ahead in the polls. Even so, Massari wasn’t concerned about Italy becoming another source of trouble for Brussels. “In the last 60 years there was a continuity in the pro-European approach of the Italians, it’s very consolidated,” he said, adding that “clearly in democracy there are different views, but Italians in general would not support a departure from such a pro-European attitude.”