MADRID--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Enrico Letta – Prime Minister of Italy until two weeks ago – made his first public comments since leaving office at the Berggruen Institute on Governance’s (BIG) “Project Europe” Town Hall, which took place in Madrid on February 27-28. He warned the town hall that the rise of populism, fueled as it may be by real concerns over immigration and youth unemployment, would not lead Europe out of its crisis. "They are only against," he said, "but offer no alternatives." Letta raised the specter of populist parties gaining a significant share of votes in the European Parliament elections in May, and bringing the kind of "filibuster politics" we have seen from Washington to Europe.
He called for all pro-Europeans to band together to provide a real alternative so that the "flag of Europe is the flag of the future."
Letta's predecessor Mario Monti, chair of BIG's Council for the Future of Europe, called upon "France to become France again" and stop being "timid" in its approach to Europe.
Also addressing the town hall, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho argued that completing a European banking union was of utmost importance to mend fragmented financial markets that are depriving Europe’s southern countries of the affordable credit they need to grow. His plea was echoed by Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy who said that, now that Spain is over the worst of the financial crisis and headed toward recovery, Europe should not be complacent and move forward quickly toward fiscal and, ultimately, political union.
The “Project Europe” Town Hall is the third in a series of conferences organized by BIG’s Council for the Future of Europe. Previous town halls took place in Berlin and Paris.
Below are video highlights from the “Project Europe” Town Hall: