“Breakfast With” is the brand new section of our blog.
Within this part of our newsletter, we would like to interview influential European leaders from fields including Politics, Economics, Science and Technology.
- Dear Mr. Cicu, first of all many thanks for giving us the opportunity to interview you. Undersecretary at Minister of Treasury and later Defense, Vice President of PDL Deputies at Italian Congress and now Vice Chair for the Delegation for the Arab Peninsula, Member of International trade commission (see TTIP) and Regional Development. What is the next step?
The committment is focused on working to support and protect our territories and all that economies which embody their productive vocation, valuing under an European perspective the excellence of the regional identity, but also the SMEs which drive the economies. Under that point of view I continue to maintain strong my activity in favor of the islands, Sardinia and Sicily, and of the whole Mediterranean area, which became the strategic epicenter for all the Eurozone. During these days I have been nominated European responsible for the report on the Solidariety Funds allocated to Region Sardinia for the flood of November 2014. Since my duties as a European Member I have been truly committed on giving the maximum priority to that chapter, and today is realizing an additional step in that with necessary concreteness and effort I give to the needs of a territory which is asking revenge, on the economic aspect, infrastructural, and labour
- As Member of the International Trade Committee, he is deeply involved in the negotiation about TTIP. What does it mean this commercial agreement for EU?
The TTIP is an extraordinary opportunity in terms of economic growth for our enterprises. Under the role of Italian Responsible for the dossier TTIP I have been fighting particularly for the SMEs. The two third of the vacating jobs in the private sector comes from here, which signifies the 85% of the new job assumptions of the last few years. Today we are actually living a positive communication phase which the European productive and industrial forces
- Don’t you think that European Companies will be weakened by this agreement, especially the ones who operate in the IT market?
There will be no weakening. On both sides of the Atlantic, SMEs are a foundamental source of innovation, creating new products and new services. This is a reality to encourage and to be encouraged. The future of world economies is based on the exchange and it is regulated by specific intercontinental cooperation agreements;
- How do you think the EU Companies can compete with the U.S. ones that benefit of lower taxes and oil & gas price, lower cost to access to capital markets, higher technology development and human capital?
Let me give you an example. European investments on start-up amount to 7.6 billion dollars against the 38 billion dollars fielded by American venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. A disproportion that forces the startup of the Old Continent to focus their core business on the local and niche markets. This example shows us how still weak we are in a sector so crucial as innovation, so we need a strong investment policy to support SMEs, to give them incentives, based on a qualified human capital. Only in this way we could face the challenges of the world market.
- What is doing the EPP to make better the agreement?
There are several steps made. Definitely a strong focus of SMEs, through the creation of a special representative committee of the instances, with the aim to strengthen a network of online information to facilitate the participation of local companies in international trade.
In fact, a recent survey suggests that the transatlantic trade is already a source of great benefits for the productive system. In 2012 were 150 000 the SMEs who exported to the US; their share amounts to 28% of total EU exports to the United States.
- The EU is surrounded by the Chaos: in the East boarders there is the Ukraine issue and in the South the ISIS one. As Vice Chair for the Delegation for the Arab Peninsula, you are experiencing directly the deep changes in the region. What do you think is the better way to manage the economic and politic relationship with the Region?
Although the numbers are high, it is good to contextualize the numbers of migrants who arrive in Europe: in 2015 they were one million, including refugees and migrants, that is, slightly more than 0.1 percent of the European population. There are already 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon, 20 percent of the population of the country. Proportionately, it is like saying that Europe harbored 150 million refugees. Turkey, the land on which the EU would like to address migrants and refugees, already harbor two million refugees. Regarding the immigration policies there are no quick solutions to keep together the instances of ethics, of the practicability and of the democracy. The crisis of migrants has gone on for so long and, apart from measures to be taken, it won’t be resolved in one or two years. The basic issue is not so much political, but concerns the attitude and perceptions.
My role as Vice President of the Delegation for Relations with the Arabian Peninsula, represents a new frontier of opportunity for Europe, in terms of dialogue and trade with prestigious international markets. This assignment, as an institutional objective, concerns the task of strengthening relations between the European Parliament and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, both in terms of rights and on the promotion of new bilateral relations between the two continental realities. The EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council, are linked by a cooperation agreement born in 1988, a bond aimed to improve the political stability in a strategically important region on the international level, allowing to expand the scope of economic and technological cooperation with particular reference to the sectors of energy, industry, trade, services, but also agriculture, fisheries, and further investments in the environment.
- Does it make sense to make business even with Dictators and countries which finance terrorists, according to some speeches of politics and experts?
For what it concerns the core of the EU migration flows’ issue, and in order to face it, the EU must cooperate with the migrants’ birth countries, although sometimes it’s dictatorships. The fact that we cooperate, in the framework of the events concerning Rabat and Khartoum, with some dictatorial regimes does not mean giving them a democratic legitimacy or political. We must work and cooperate together: since we decided to face the human beings’ racket , we can’t ignore that in some of those countries there are the roots of the issue. We need to engage them and make them accountable, but without legitimizing the “regimes”.
- What should be the role of Italy and EU in the region?
The EU and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), are linked by a cooperation agreement born in 1988, a bond aimed to improve the political stability in a strategically important region on an international level, allowing to expand the scope of economic cooperation with particular reference to the sectors of energy, industry, trade, services, but also agriculture, fisheries, and further investments in the environment. Today, therefore, it is confirmed an important agreement for Europe, in the sign of the internationalization of businesses, cultures and productive use of
resources. Europe will be able to strengthen its role as an economic leader on an intercontinental scale expanding a logic of bilateral agreements capable of building new cooperation flows.
- What about Libya?
We need to build a partnership, a cooperation system. President Fayez al-Sarraj in this way is showing himself collaborative, especially in terms of quick support to security. The EU should contribute to the training of the Navy and the Libyan Coast Guard, because this is the necessary step to change the mandate of the Operation Sophia, that – operationally launched in July of the last year – since October is in ‘Phase 2A’ and operates in the international sea just beyond of the 12-miles’ line from Libya. We have to patch up security relations that restore livability to the Mediterranean and its businesses.
- Let’s talk about austerity. Do you think that it is working?
In recent years the United States have been focusing their attention on growth, investment and innovation. On the other hand Europe on austerity, currency, rigor. In economic terms the US are better than eight years ago, while Europe is worse than eight years ago. Austerity is not enough. Actually, the countries that have grown up in Europe did so only because they have breached the deficit rules macroscopically: let’s think about the Cameron’s United Kingdom who financed tax cuts bringing the deficit to 5% or about the Rajoy’s Spain who has accompanied the growth with an average deficit of nearly 6%. The issue concerns not the rules, but rather the economic policy of our Europe.
- All the Governments and Political Parties which implemented austerity policies have lost electoral support and elections such as in Spain, Portugal and Ireland. Is it time to change the economic strategy of EPP?
The truth is we must return to our citizens, to their real needs, to the economies which live with difficulty. The role of governments should include facilitating the processes of growth and development, not to crush the future. Today it should be rebuilt a corporate mechanism in many parts of Europe. This is the starting point’s reality. Austerity is responsible for delays of which our citizens pay the costs.
- Anyway the EPP does not have any more the absolute majority in the EU Parliament. Do you think that a “Gross Koalition” similar to the German model, can work with the S&D party?
There are values that can be the core of our dialogues, but it must be made a distinction. The EPP represents the great moderate tradition, family, free enterprise, the firm, reformism, Christian culture. In recent years we have started an important process of renovation with respect to the evolution of modern society; this is the road that lies ahead: innovate to continue to exist, as the voice of European moderates as expression of society that cares about the issue of values.
- Have you ever thought to come back to work as lawyer?
I always tried to keep alive the bond with my professional activities. Politics, however, is my present, which is a present of creation, contact with people, study and knowledge of societal problems. Politics is a mission, to live humbly and in continuous work. This is the added value that I bring to my work.
Roberto Vacca – Head of Events at ESCP Europe Finance Society
Francesco Maretto – ESCP Europe Student