Italy and Greece blogpost

20th November, 2013

Visits to Greece and Italy in October.

Again, a late post. Apologies.

An important priority is to maintain contact with other Member States on issues that matter to us. I therefore spent a day in Italy, followed by a day in Greece. Why?

Italy – a large member state, very influential and will be holding the Presidency of the EU in the second half of next year.

Greece – will be the next President of the Council. They will take over from Lithuania. Another very influential country and also one that is, as you know, facing great difficulties.

A quick word on each.

The centre piece of my day in Italy was a long and very substantial meeting with my colleague Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi. In this meeting we discussed the status of banking union progress and the status of political union. The Minister outlined the Italian plans for their Presidency.  We also discussed the visit of Prime Minister Letta to Dublin (has now happened).

The visit to Athens involved a meeting with Prime Minister and then my colleague Dimitris Kourkoulas. Again, we discussed plans for the Greek Presidency but also spent a lot of time discussing challenges facing the Greek economy and their society. A few days prior to my arrival leading members of Golden Dawn were arrested. I saw at first hand the pressure that Greek is under and what their Government is doing to fix their difficulties. I saw at first hand the challenges that Greece faces.

A busy but extremely productive couple of days.

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