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European leaders at The State of the Union Conference Reporting in English

Florence – Numerous distinguished speakers intervened during the special online edition of The State of the Union, organised by the European University Institute (EUI). In this unprecedented moment of global crisis, the event focused on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health policy, the international economic outlook and global cooperation.

The special online edition of The State of the Union was opened by EUI President Renaud Dehousse, Mayor of Florence Dario Nardella and Governor of Tuscany Enrico Rossi. In his high-level opening address European Council President Charles Michel called for a “De Gasperi plan” to relaunch Europe, in the spirit of Alcide De Gasperi, Italy’s Prime Minister in the years following World War II, and one of the founding fathers of the European Union.

Michel also added that Europe should focus more on well-being. “A caring society, where individual wellbeing and collective well-being are fundamental to one another – let us make this Europe’s new horizon, let this be what we direct our energies toward.”

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio: “We cannot forget that the health emergency has confronted the EU with the worst crisis in its history. The answer we give will shape the future of the EU.”

High-level address by European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde opened session 2. Talking about Europe and adversity, Lagarde said. “Whenever our concrete achievements were threatened we did not backtrack…we decided to reinforce them.” As no country is responsible for causing the crisis, “we must make sure there are no undue constraints on our policy responses,” Lagarde added.

As far as the ECB is concerned, “we remain undeterred” to pursue the mandate set in the Treaty. She went on to say this is “our Schuman moment” and call an EU common fiscal response “highly desirable”, saying it needs to be “swift, sizeable and symmetric”.

In the following high-level discussion, Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf talked to European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, who said that “the risk is that a common crisis -such as the one we have – will have differentiated consequences on the economic field and this could put the whole European building under pressure.” Gentiloni added that “we need a common fiscal policy, not only a common monetary policy” and noted the significance of the fact that “the principle of a common fiscal response is now accepted”.

In the concluding high-level address Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte pointed at the need for increased solidarity. “Our continent will prevail only if it wil be capable of staying united and implementing a coordinated response based on…solidarity.”

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