vito borrelli european commission

Euroscepticism and European challenges. Interview with Vito Borrelli

Vito Borrelli is the Deputy Head of the European Commision Representation in Italy. This Ca’ Foscari graduate continued his career in Brussels, first as a translator and then as Head of Sector for the Erasmus Mundus program in DG Education and Culture. Since 2017, he is the the Deputy Head of the European Commission Representation in Italy, a position that allowed him to deal with important situations and policies not only in the European Union, but also in Italy. 

What does the European Commission Representation do?

We’re basically the eyes, ears and mouth of the European Commission on the territory. We have three main responsibilities: first, we analyze and report on the political situation in Italy – our country is going through a very complex and unpredictable phase as far as politics are concerned and, as Representation, we had to decipher and make sense of the new movements and tendencies that have emerged recently.
Our second role is to facilitate the communication and the encounter between European and Italian representatives, so we mediate between the issues of Rome and the ones of Brussels. Last but not least, the Representation presents and explains European policies and programs to both citizens and institutions. 

What challenges will Europe have to face next? 

At the moment, the European Union is focusing its efforts on 4 sectors

  • Security and defense policies, underlining the importance of the creation of a European army and the cooperation of police forces in member states;
  • Safeguarding the environment, with the goal of reaching a climate neutral Europe by 2030;
  • Digital development, as well through the implementation of the “WiFi4EU” project, which will give free access to Wi-Fi connection for all citizens in public areas all across Europe
  • Foreign trade policies

To sum it up, the big challenge that Europe has to face is the finalization of the economic and financial union, ideally through the creation of a European Treasury Secretary that will be able to handle these matters.
These challenges must be faced together, especially if we want to maintain our relevance in the global scenario over the next 30 years. 

Let's talk about the Euroscepticism that has been sweeping Europe lately. Where do these feeling towards the European Union come from?

These movements are a consequence of the economic crisis and the fear of external threats (be it immigration or terrorism), factors which led many states to a sort of isolation and detachment, in the illusion that this behavior could solve their problems. Thirty years ago, no one was doubting the European Union, essentially because it had no true impact on the political life of member states. Nowadays instead, every political choice of any country gets inevitably associated with the European directives. This means the power of the European Union has become unavoidable, and therefore it is seen as the enemy, because it appears like the main architect of all political choices.
Nevertheless, I think this trend could change. As weird as it may sound, according to the EuroBarometer, Italy’s opinion on Europe has become more positive – the rate of approval for the European Union among Italian people has gone from a 49% to a 64%, a remarkable increase which gives us hope for the future. The European Union’s motto is “United in Diversity” and it perfectly sums up the message that we want to convey.

You graduated in Languages and Foreign Literatures from Ca’ Foscari. Can you tell us something about you experience as a student?

The choice of studying modern languages was met with certain reservations from my family, who weren’t sure a graduate in this field could ever find a proper job. At first, I had started doubting my choice too, but luckily I didn’t give up. The very languages I studied (English, Spanish and Russian) are the reason why I managed to get a career in Europe.
I had the honour of attending prof. Barattos’s classes. He was my Italian Literature professor. These classes are still one of my fondest memories of my time at Ca’ Foscari.  After 30 years from my graduation, being able to visit the Aula Magna in his name was a beautiful experience. I also had the pleasure to attend the classes of Prof. Strada, one of the main scholars of Russian Culture and Literature, who managed to instill in me the love for the subject. 

Francesca Favaro