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Unemployment across the eurozone

Ministers from France, Germany, and Italy are expected to meet in Rome this week to tackle youth unemployment and introduce reforms to relaunch growth and competitiveness. What is at stake is the European project. The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, described it as a "battle for Europe's unity", and warned that a revolution might occur if Europe's welfare model is abandoned. Joblessness is an emergency and it is good sign that it is on top of the agenda of the next European Council (to be held end of June). President Van Rompuy acknowledged [1] that the number of unemployed people in the Union, especially of the unemployed young, is at record levels. At last, European leaders are addressing social issues alongside economic ones.

The European Commission has proposed a series of measures in the framework of the Youth Employment Package: the European Alliance for

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Rome view: John Kerry in Italy

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Rome from Moscow, where he convened with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to call for an international conference, possibly by the end of the month, to discuss a political solution for Syria to “end the bloodshed, the killing, and the massacres.” The diplomatic breakthrough aimed to recuperate the Geneva communiqué and to create a transitional government. (The implementation of the agreement, discussed back in June 2012, was blocked, however, because the question of the future of President Bashar al-Assad was left unsolved.)

This is Kerry's second visit to Italy since his appointment as secretary of state. The impression is that he has grasped the value of its historic role as a bridge between East and West, and between North and South. Italy's geographic and cultural proximity to the Mediterranean may now turn into a great diplomatic

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Rome view: Enrico Letta’s burden

He is young and experienced, but - most importantly - he is a truly European. Enrico Letta, 46, the new Italian Prime Minister, is probably the last chance Italy has to avoid new elections. In a country paralysed by stagnation and where enterprises shut down every day, his first address was significant: "austerity measures” he said “have reached their limits." He also quoted President Barroso where he pointed out the urgency to place stronger emphasis on growth, including in the short term.

My bet is that European partners, as well as international markets, will like him. Letta has an old connection to the Union: from 2004 to 2006 he was MEP with the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, sitting in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. At the age of 32 he was Minister for European Affairs under the first D'Alema government (becoming the youngest

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Rome view: Napolitano stays; Berlusconi wins


Deaf, inconsistent, and reckless: with these words a furious and tired Giorgio Napolitano, 87, referred to the parliament in his inaugural address on Monday as the reconfirmed (for the first time in Italy history) Italian head of state. He threatened to leave if politicians continue to act with “irresponsibility.” “I have a duty to be frank. If I find myself once again facing the kind of deafness I ran into in the past, I will not hesitate to draw the consequences,” he said, sounding like a teacher scolding his pupils. The warning was welcomed with warm and prolonged applause. It was a public admonishment over continued negligence that had hurt the country just as it had benefitted the political parties for many years. 

The reconfirmation of Napolitano came after days of uncertainty and division. Notwithstanding his age and his stated desire to retire, Napolitano had no choice:

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Rome view: Fate presto Italia!

"FATE PRESTO" (“Act fast" or "Act now”) was the headline in Il Sole 24 Ore back in November 2011, when Silvio Berlusconi had to step down due to the increasingly desperate economic situation of Italy. Such a headline had also been used  in 1980, after a terrible earthquake struck the country. But now in 2013, nearly a year and a half after a technical government was appointed to rescue Italy from a possible “Greek scenario”, the SOS appeal has never been as urgent.

Italy today is paralysed. 45 days after the elections it still does not have a government. The de facto agreement is to first vote for a new head of state, then the government (or the new president could call for new elections). In the meantime there is a prorogatio of Monti, a scenario that none of the three main blocs (Democratic Party, People of Freedom and Five Stars Movement) wanted, with 10 "sages" trying to find

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