I met President Berlusconi today on what is an important day for Italy and I expressed my warmest congratulations for the 150th anniversary of the Unity of the Country celebrated on the day of La Festa della Repubblica. I was impressed by the celebrations I attended this morning in the Fori Imperiali.
We had a discussion on some of the most relevant issues currently on the European agenda.
Firstly, concerning the situation in the euro area I thanked the Prime Minister for the very constructive approach, including Italian support to finalise the formal agreement on the permanent stability mechanism and to provide appropriate support to countries facing difficulties in the euro zone.
I also congratulate him for the cautious fiscal policy the Italian government has been implementing throughout the crisis, which is key for the financial stability of the countries in the euro area. I also underlined the need to implement an ambitious reform agenda to strengthen growth potential.
Secondly, on the recent developments in North Africa and in the Middle East we have agreed on the need for the EU to demonstrate its strong commitment to match the historical changes that are taking place in our Southern Neighbourhood. In light of recent national initiatives, the Deauville G8 Declaration, as well as the European Commission's Communication on the European Neighbourhood policy, we also agreed on the necessity to discuss at the June European Council what further measures could best support the political and the economic process in the region.
Thirdly, we have discussed how to deal with the continued influx of irregular migrants from the Southern Neighbourhood caused by the ongoing crisis. In preparation of the next European Council we commonly analysed the different topics to be discussed, namely the management of external borders, the importance of the right to free movement and the Schengen area, asylum and the launching of a dialogue for migration, mobility and security with the southern Mediterranean countries.
Finally, I expressed my solidarity to President Berlusconi with the Italian soldiers and their families injured in the recent terroristic attacks in Lebanon and in Afghanistan. I thanked the Italian government for its strong contribution to bring peace and stability in crucial parts of the world.