On 05 November 2015, at the beginning of my two-day visit to Italy, I was glad to participate in the Citizens' Dialogue in Matera, along with Claudio De Vincenti, Secretary of State to the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and Marcello Pittella, President of the Basilicata region. A very important topic for the country was on the agenda - 'EU cohesion policy: A decisive boost for growth and jobs in Southern Italy'. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to engage in discussions and explain how the Juncker Commission intends to create investments, growth and jobs. As I exactly pointed out during the event - we don't do policies for the sake of policies, but to improve people's quality of life. The Investment Plan for Europe, through the European Fund for Strategic Investments, is a case in point to create concrete opportunities for people and businesses.
Communicating with citizens across Europe, listening to ideas and engaging in discussions about decisions being taken is very important. Therefore the purpose of my visit to Italy was first of all to listen to Italian citizens’ voices, their expectations and concerns. I was impressed by the high number of participants to the Citizens' Dialogue event - about 450 people coming from various regions of southern Italy and from different backgrounds. The Dialogue was meaningful for all of us - indisputably, individual involvement of the EU citizens can better shape initiatives and priorities.
My visit to Italy was also a good opportunity to announce that this week a major project 'Regi Lagni' worth EUR 200 million has been adopted. It will improve the quality of water for many inhabitants of the Campania region. In Matera, I attended the launch event of the 2014-2020 Operational Programme for the Basilicata region. With an over EUR 826 million contribution, it will make a difference to the overall social and economic development of the region. On my last day of visit to Italy, I attended the launch event of the Operational Programme 'Infrastructure and Networks', a solid investment package worth over EUR 1.8 billion, with EUR 1.3 billion coming from the European Regional Development Fund. In the near future, the everyday life of many Italians will improve as a result of improved railway connections and developed port infrastructures.