Barroso praised the progress made in Italy, saying that the crisis strategy was showing results. He welcomed the Italian Council Presidency later in 2014 and assured Letta of the Commission's continued support.
At the heart of our discussions today were our efforts to promote growth and jobs in Europe. We all agreed that 2014 can mark a turning point, for Europe and for Italy. Our comprehensive crisis strategy consisting of fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and targeted investment has started to show some positive results.
Italy, thanks to its impressive efforts, was able to exit the Excessive Deficit Procedure in 2013. This was a major achievement. This has helped to re-establish confidence and bring spreads down - saving billions of euro to taxpayers. In addition, Italy has also introduced measures to fight unemployment, to simplify the public administration, to reduce the number of infringements of EU law to enhance investors' confidence in the Single Market, and to make better use of EU funds. We should continue with determination so that we can avoid putting new water on the mills of populist and anti-European forces. I am pleased that we share the same analysis today. We all know that Italy's economic success will crucially depend on progress on two fronts: reducing the enormous mountain of debt that stands in the way of Italy's future; and unlocking the country's growth potential by implementing structural reforms. The European Commission continues to stand by Italy in the context of our economic policy coordination, and also by making available fresh EU funds for Italy during the period 2014-2020.
Today, we also discussed fully the Italian presidency of the Council in the second half of 2014. This will be a special presidency, even more delicate than usual presidencies, because it will be the presidency of the transitions in the European institutions: a new Parliament and a new Commission. Under the new legislature after the European elections it will be key to implement Banking Union and make further progress towards fiscal, economic and political union. We already have some dates, not only the March and June European Councils, but we will also have for instance an important October European Council, already during the Italian presidency, when fundamental aspects of the monetary and economic union will be discussed and hopefully approved.
Video of press conference
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