Italian President Giorgio Napolitano (left) and EP President Martin Schulz  

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano made a passionate plea in favour of sticking with the EU and making it better during a visit to the European Parliament. "The new mission of the EU is to show that we live together in the flow of globalisation as a unified nation," he told MEPs in Strasbourg on 4 February. "We have to fight against national egoism and anachronistic conservatism."

The Italian president said the EU should learn its lessons from the crisis Europe has been weathering these last few years. "What are we experiencing today is a moment of truth for the future of European integration," he said. "EU citizens are moving away from the EU integration process and unemployment has played a role, but I believe that it is the democratic deficit of EU decisions that has played a major role."

Mr Napolitano said EU institutions had hesitated too much during the crisis, but that fortunately steps were now being taken to correct this. The president also stressed the EU still had a future:  "How can people can talk about the end of the European experience! Despite the difficult last years, we have to defend the euro and looking to the mistakes of the past should be the first step."