ROME, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Tuesday set growth policies at the center of the agenda for his country's rotating presidency of the European Union (EU), which is due to start on July 1.
In his address to the Italian parliament to outline the presidency's guidelines, Renzi stressed there will be "no possible stability without growth" because "without growth there is paralysis."
Renzi, whose center-left Democratic Party (PD) won 40.8 percent of the vote in last month's election to the European Parliament (EP), said "those who love Europe have the duty to save Europe," thus must avoid blocking the growth process with rigid austerity policies.
"The great majority of European citizens are convinced that the EU economic policy has put in a safe place the euro but has not allowed the EU to grow and strengthen," the prime minister said.
He assured that Italy was not asking to break the 3-percent deficit ceiling set by the EU, but was pushing for flexibility on important infrastructural investments within the pacts.
"Italy has always respected the rules and will continue to act so, but there are different ways of doing this," Renzi said.
The remarks came a day after Renzi in a letter to European Council President Herman Van Rompuy called on the EU to encourage pro-growth moves on the national level as the reforms will be effective if applied "contemporaneously with other countries."
In order to "bring its voice into Europe with great determination and conviction," Renzi insisted on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming EU summit set on Thursday and Friday, Italy has to strongly believe that Europe is a driver for development and growth and "not a place of people who dictate rules."
Renzi, who has worked on an ambitious plan of structural measures since he took power in February, said his government was aiming at passing reforms of welfare, taxes, agriculture and other far-reaching sectors that "will change Italy in 1,000 days" from Sept. 1, 2014 to May 28, 2017.
The Italian prime minister also called on European countries to work together more than before in setting common strategies that should "come before nominations."
Among the emergencies that are in urgent need of shared policies at the EU level, he cited record-high unemployment rates and the countless arrivals of African migrants who try the sea crossing to the Italian southern coasts, sees as the easiest gate to Europe, every day, often losing their lives.
Regarding foreign policy, Renzi stressed that Italy as well as all of Europe need to be more "active" in the matter of relations with foreign countries.