There were two important moments to my visit to Rome on 22 February: a solid meeting with the Italian Minister for Regional Cohesion, and the launch of a book on the "brotherhood" between the Italian and Romanian peoples, a book focusing on the Romanian community living in Italy.
It was a rainy, cold day in Rome (with more "rainy mood" for Romanian football supporters as that same evening, Lazio Roma would defeat Steaua Bucarest 5-1 in the Europa League!), but it was a shiny day for me as my main appointments in the Italian capital turned out to be very positive.
This time was no different, ahead of the summit of EU heads of states and governments in Brussels, I stressed the importance - for both Italy and Europe, to preserve a strong cohesion policy in future. On this issue, the position of the Italian government among the Member States is crucial.
As the European Commission presented three possible scenarios for the future of cohesion policy, I stressed to Minister De Vincenti that scenario 2 (a 15% cut in cohesion policy) would mean half of Italian regions losing all EU funding, and that scenario 3 (a 30% cut in cohesion policy) would mean no more funding for any Italian region whatsoever!
I also managed to give the Italian newspaper La Stampa an interview in which i highlighted the risks for Italy of deep cuts in future EU budgets. The interview is online here
To the roots of the Italy-Romania friendship
Later that day Claudio De Vincenti and I were the hosts of the Romanian Academy in Rome, alongside the Romanian Ambassador and other speakers, for the launch of the book Come fratelli ("Like brothers"), by two Romanian authors living in Italy.
With the authors of the book "Come fratelli"
The book focuses on the (very) old links between Romanians and Italians, as those stretch back to the days of the Roman Empire, and on the important contribution of Romanians to Italy's economic and social life. An impressive piece of work!
Of course, there were many Romanians in the audience and meeting my co-nationals who have chosen to live in Italy was an unforgettable experience!