01 February, 2020
Our President Sandro Gozi becomes a Member of the European Parliament

From today, 1st February, Sandro Gozi is a Member of the European Parliament. The former Secretary of State for European Affairs in the governments led by Matteo Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni was elected in France, in the list of the Republique en Marche of President Emmanuel Macron, and after the exit of the representatives of the United Kingdom will fill the ranks of the third political group to the Europarliament, Renew Europe, whose size is reduced to 98 members, along with liberals from many countries but no Italian MP.  In this legislature, the President of the European Federalists, 52 years old in March, is the only one elected with a nationality different from that of the country that voted for him. Only the former Greek Minister of Economy, Yanis Varoufakis, in addition to him, was a former member of the government candidate in another country, in his case Germany, but he was not elected. In this interview with AGI on the day of his official entry into the European Parliament, Gozi makes himself available to his colleagues and Italian institutions as "the only interlocutor who speaks their language in the third European political group".

Sandro Gozi, you were elected in France, what will be your relationship with your country of origin and your Italian MEP colleagues?

I think this is an opportunity for Italy. So far Italy has been absent from the third group in Parliament, one of the most active, one of those who have dictated the European agenda since the support for Ursula Von Der Leyen. I am open to full cooperation on the basis of political choices.  I believe that there is a possibility especially with some political groups: I will be the first Italian in Renew Europe, and for Italy I think it is an advantage that there is a strongly pro-European Italian who goes to the third largest group in the European Parliament. Today also in the meetings of that group (from tomorrow 97 MEPs, ed.) there will be the translation into Italian; with humility, I believe I can offer an opportunity for dialogue also to companies, associations, consumers, regions, which from today can have an interlocutor who speaks their language in the Renew Europe group.


How will relations with other Italian MEPs be?

I doubt that except on some issues it will be possible to deal with the Italian elected representatives of the extreme right, of the League, of the Marine Le Pen group because they have positions at the antipodes not only compared to mine but also to those of many other Italians in the plenary. The European Parliament is increasingly linked to political lines rather than national affiliations. However, I am open to cooperating with everyone knowing that there are political choices and values that I want to pursue for Europe for Italy.


How does the MEP Sandro Gozi, who enters Parliament as a result of Brexit, feel?

I feel great emotion and great satisfaction but for my person and my path, certainly not for Brexit! I believe deeply in Europe, I am in love with it: I have worked for 10 years in the European Commission and I have proudly represented our national interests in the EU Council of Ministers, but apart from an internship I have never worked in the European Parliament and I always thought that sooner or later I had to have this experience. For those who did politics at 99% just to do European politics, this was a motivation and the European Parliament at this stage is the best thing that could happen to me. I am excited and very determined to make my contribution to a European renewal that is absolutely urgent. For me it is also the concretization of what was utopia and hope for so many of us: to begin to realize transnational politics, a politics that goes beyond narrow national borders and lays the foundations for the construction of what is lacking in Europe and is fundamental for a real European democracy accomplished: real transnational political movements. 


What will be the first thing you will do as an MEP?

The first objective will be to reform European politics, first of all by introducing transnational lists and thus doubling the voting power of European citizens in 2024, then also by strengthening the power of MEPs starting from that of legislative initiative, to be able to propose laws, which is not possible today. I consider myself lucky and proud to be able to embody a project that I learned for the first time from Marco Pannella, an MEP at the time when I was a trainee: the idea of getting politics out of national borders. Among other things, I am a member of the Transnational Radical Party and this fundamental idea is a great challenge for me.


Why did you stand for election in France?

In 2016, I was the first in Europe after Brexit to propose using the 73 British seats to finally introduce transnational lists, i.e. lists common to the whole of Europe, embryos of real European political parties. We did not make it: I fought with the Renzi government, then Gentiloni and then I continued in France, with Macron.  We were stopped in parliament by the opposition of a large part of the EPP and the nationalists. So we decided to do it in France: this I would like to explain to the Italians: Macron decided to do in France what the right people in Europe denied us, that is a list with 7 nationalities and Italy was represented by me". Gozi was born in Sogliano al Rubicone, in the middle of Romagna.


What do you think about the electoral result in your region?

The elections went well: it would have been dramatic if Emilia Romagna had lost in the face of Salvini's violent, demagogic and nationalist strategy. In Emilia Romagna, good governance, the wisdom of the Emilia-Romagna people and a strong civic sense, still very deep in this region, won. From the sardines to the high mobilization and participation in the vote, there was a civic reaction against the verbal violence and not only of Salvini that gives me hope.  I believe, however, that we must be very cautious: there is an enormous amount of work to be done in Italy. Beating Salvini in Emilia Romagna does not mean winning the national match, quite the opposite. But it's certainly good news for Italians and Europeans, because by then he had become a European symbol of the fight against nationalism, and in particular for me, born in Sogliano, with my family of origin all still there in Sogliano and Cesena. And, since there is no Romagnolo in the European Parliament, I am ready to make the voice of the people of Romagna heard in Europe 


You are President of the European Federalists, do you still think that federalism is an objective for the Union today?

I am increasingly convinced of it: the real alternative to nationalism is to regain control at European level of issues that are completely beyond the nation states' control. 'Take back control', say the brexiters: the question is very correct but their answer is wrong and goes against history as well as their real interests. The right answer is to build a federal Europe that can truly take back control over digital, over finance, that can build a truly integrated defence policy and that can push Europe to be an international political player at least on vital issues. Federalism means a sovereign and democratic Europe and remains the only approach that can also make it possible to restore powers to the territories, to civil society, to the regions, at a time when Europe must perhaps do fewer things but more immigration policy, foreign policy, the fight against climate change and artificial intelligence: all issues that justify our federalist proposal, which is a radical alternative to neo-nationalism.

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