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Italy could be ‘the leader of Europe’ in ten years, declares bullish prime minister

October 3rd, 2014
01:07 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Despite a dismal and worsening economic situation, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that his country could, in the next ten years, become “the leader of Europe.”

“I see there is in my country the possibility to create the future. But after twenty years of politics, discussions, [and] ideological crisis, we lost a lot of opportunities. Now I think for a politician, it's absolutely important, this message: We can lose the elections, but we cannot lose this opportunity.”

The 39-year-old Renzi, who took office in February, must first overcome extremely worrying economics.

In August, the country slid back into its third recession in six years; unemployment is over 12%; and youth unemployment is a staggering 44%, causing a massive brain drain of young professionals.

“We change a lot of times the prime minister” – four in the past five years – “but we don't change our country. And our country is an incredible country, very beautiful, with an incredible past, an incredible present – but we need a future.”

The future of Europe is unclear not only because of the extremely sluggish economic recovery, but also because of the “in-or-out” referendum that British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised in 2017, should he win reelection.

“Now, obviously, I agree – we must absolutely change Europe, because it's correct, because it's right – before the referendum of 2017 in the UK,” Renzi said just after meeting with Prime Minister Cameron. “And not only because there is a referendum, but because it's absolutely correct.”

“I believe [it is] important [to] reduce the power of bureaucracy in Europe. I believe absolutely [it is] important [to] reduce the level of technocrats’ power in Brussels. For me, Europe is not simply a community of money. It’s a community of soul, a community of future.”

“For me, it's important the UK stay inside European Union. But it’s absolutely important the European Union stay in the hearts of the citizens. This is a moment [that is] very dangerous. We must change Europe.”

Amanpour asked Renzi what keeps him up at night – the same question she asked Renzi’s predecessor, Enrico Letta, almost exactly a year ago and in the very same room in Italy’s London embassy.

“The lack of confidence,” Renzi said. “Everything is possible for Italy.”

“I am absolutely convinced because I see the eyes of entrepreneurs who invest in the future despite the problem of bureaucracy, of civil justice, of the labor market. I see the eyes of young women in Italy – I am the first [prime minister] with half presence in my cabinet of women.”

Renzi said that he was unworried by the hordes of young, professional Italians leaving the county to find work elsewhere.

“Let me be very frank,” he said. “Obviously, it’s a big problem, unemployment, this is clear.”

“Why I said it's not a problem if a part of Italian people left Italy – because I think around the world, there are a lot of Italians very able, very intelligent, very smart, who change the world.”


Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Italy • Latest Episode
soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Campagnie

    Italy should get their sailors out of India's jail where they been rotting for years waiting for tribal laws to take course, if they want to project their presence.

    October 3, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Reply
    • Red Grapes

      Indian judges are busy rayping in courtrooms to be doing much else of anything.

      October 3, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  2. VINCENZO SCALIA

    I am Italian and I am writing from Rome. Renzi is on only a man full of words, any action. He talks, talks and talks, but the italian situation is worst than he arrived. He began to be premier on February, taking the seat of his friend, Letta, using a twit : Letta, be calm, don't worry. Bad! Very bad, for italian people. Then, he promised a changing action every month.Anyone of this has never been made. And recently he asked for 3 years of other time to make other change. Dangerous, very dangerous. Italian young are escaping from Italy.

    October 4, 2014 at 2:21 am | Reply
    • Vince Rosano

      Give him a chance, one year is nothing, thinks in Italy are worst at the moment because the corruption's revenue are drying out, need to get worse before getting better. There are still 26,000 (approx) state subsided company with absolute no purpose loosing staggering amount of public money, employing only politicians and their cronies, also those feed a fake economy.

      October 4, 2014 at 2:56 am | Reply
      • Massimo

        In fact Renzi is doing nothing against corruption and tax evasion. Most of those who works in the Italian fake economy are his best voters.

        October 6, 2014 at 6:21 am |
    • Giovanni Cannizzaro

      Vincenzo, I fully agree with you

      October 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Reply
    • Elia Zarcone

      It's not easy to solve problems after 30 years of bad politics...

      January 2, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Reply
      • Luca

        That's what they want you to believe. The Movimento 5 Stelle has tryed to provide a lot of new laws against corruption, tax evasion, unemployment and much more. You know what happened? Renzi, and his loyal friends in the parliament, voted against them. They don't want solve the problems. They just want you to think they're doing it. So they can steal, and you'll be very happy to vote for them next time. La botte piena e la moglie ubriaca.

        February 6, 2015 at 11:03 am |
  3. giorgioangioni

    Makes tenderness to see Renzi responding in English to Amanpour with his funny Italian accent. But it seems to me an exaggeration to call him bullish. Instead despite the disaster combined by Berlusconiin the last 20 years Renzi is trying to stop the lack of self-esteem of many Italian and needs a lot of courage to rule a so conformist and anarchist country like Italy.

    October 4, 2014 at 9:21 am | Reply
  4. Eugenio

    Good job in ridiculing his English with parentheses and obviously, purposefully absent editing. Wonder how many of you can actually speak any other language. No matter his political positions, this is clearly an ad hominem attack and he was in no way bullish. See you next time you come to Italy to enjoy our summers btw.

    October 5, 2014 at 8:33 am | Reply
  5. Alessandro

    Very impressed with good, solid american journalism.
    Unfortunately this guy is a baffoon: he is a liar, and a wannabe young Berlusconi. Please listen carefully to his answers !!!
    Hats up to Christiane's professionalism because she did not laugh at his face during this interview.

    October 5, 2014 at 7:34 pm | Reply
  6. robocuc

    I am Italian living in Phoenix, AZ (USA) since ten years.
    Somehow I feel outraged with Renzi response about unemployment "“Why I said it's not a problem if a part of Italian people left Italy – because I think around the world, there are a lot of Italians very able, very intelligent, very smart, who change the world.” Youth unemployment is 44% (!!!) and total unemployment 12%. What would be the percentage of desperate Italian people that had to leave the country because there is no more future over there? I don't have the numbers but it's a big number for sure. So how can he say it's not a problem , like if all people who left Italy went to do scientists or professors or engineers or architects, etc etc.The way I see it is that there is a lot of social regression and it could be that the Italians could get back to doing the emigrants as in the days of our great-grandparents at the beginning of the last century, who left with cardboard suitcases and no money 'cause they were desperate. Go home, Renzi!

    October 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm | Reply
    • romabella64

      there way too many taxes in Italy and young people leave Italy because there is no work, here in DC I have met so many young Italians and they all tell me the same. WE do not believe in Italy anymore and that makes me sad.

      June 10, 2015 at 7:48 pm | Reply
  7. Giuseppe Bosso

    I am an Italian from Naples. I didn't believe that there might be someone who would regret Berlusconi..
    never underestimate the human race

    October 6, 2014 at 1:58 am | Reply
  8. Massimo

    Renzi is only a yunger version of Berlusconi. They speak a lot and do nothing useful for the country.

    October 6, 2014 at 6:18 am | Reply
  9. Giorgio Mancini

    Extraordinary random collection of empty words.

    October 6, 2014 at 7:34 am | Reply
  10. Alex Ogheri

    with Renzi the correct Approach would have been telling him

    "you know, you re funny"

    to which he would have replied

    "funny? funny how ? like a Clown ? Am i Here to amuse you ?"

    a Little bit like Joe Pesci, so to say (apart that Joe Pesci is a serious actor, so he could dislike the comparison!)

    October 7, 2014 at 2:16 am | Reply
  11. Elio Marelli

    He would have been more credible wearing a pasta strainer on his head.

    October 7, 2014 at 9:53 am | Reply
  12. ricohflex

    Unfortunately Italy is not Germany. There is no way Italy can lead Europe even in 20 years.
    Why is the Italian PM insisting UK stays in EU? It is not his place to say so. Only the UK PM can say so.
    Italy wants UK to stay in EU because if UK leaves, then there will be one less Santa Claus to bail the other insolvent EU nations out. Like for example, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. If UK leaves, Germany may not be able to take the financial strain of bailing other out. Italy cannot leave the EU. Unlike Italy, UK did not adopt the Euro. UK kept the Pound Sterling. Thus UK is in a better position to leave the EU. Which the UK has to do NOW. Do not delay the inevitable.
    The EU has a fundamental structural flaw. Un-elected pompous EU officials boss around the elected heads of government of EU countries. These un-elected EU officials are not answerable to any electorate; and thus they do NOT care.
    UK has been billed £1.7 Billion. That is the bill for now. People of the UK, please ask yourselves, in the future years, how many more multi-billion £ bills are you expecting from the EU officials in Brussels. Can UK afford to pay all these?
    If the answer is NO in 2014, then why is UK still dragging its feet in the EU? Get out fast. NOW.
    There are millions of East Europeans, Romani people from Italy, North African muslims from France who want to migrate to UK soon under the EU Migration Policy. Bringing with them, crime. Oh, UK citizens will like that very much.

    November 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Reply
    • Luca

      That's nice. Italy is the 3rd contributor to the EU (after Germany and France). Nobody has ever given a single penny to Italy. Every year we give to the EU something about 5 billions (with the b) more than they give back to us (from 2007 to 2012 we have "donate" more than 27 billions). Greece owes us 40 billions of euros. We are the ones that shouldn't stay in this EU anymore.

      February 6, 2015 at 11:11 am | Reply
  13. romabella64

    As an Italian living in the USa I am ashamed about him. he does NOTHING for the Italian people. We have 4 millions with no jobs and yet he constantly vote against his own people. He help only the immigrants who arrive with boats by the thousands. There are no jobs or money. Italy is on her knees and he does NOTHING. He is a buffon.

    June 10, 2015 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  14. Eugenio

    I think Renzi's government is working very well indeed. Job reform, civil justice reform, school reforn, anticorruption laws and so on during the last year. Now they are going to pass the senate reform to speed up political decisions and reduce the number of sentaors from 315 to 100. You can say whatever you want about the guy – I personally don't like some of this wordings – but you can't deny he has given to Italy the boost it needs. I just hope he doesn't slow down and begin to seriously take on the problems of the southern regions of the country. That's italy's biggest challenge to date.

    September 20, 2015 at 2:05 am | Reply

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