PORTUGAL - Diplomacy
President of Italy,
Sergio Mattarella holds a summa cum laude law degree from La Sapienza University and taught parliamentary law at the Law School of the University of Palermo until 1983, when he took leave of absence upon being elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Christian Democracy Party until 2008. During these seven parliamentary terms, he was member of the Constitutional Affairs Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee, and the Legislative Commission, which he also chaired. He was minister for relations with Parliament from 1987-1989 and minister of education from 1989-1990. He became deputy prime minister in 1998 and minister of defense from 1999-2001. In 2009, Parliament elected him member of the Bureau’s Council for Administrative Justice, of which he was elected deputy chairman. In 2011, he was elected Constitutional Judge by Parliament and was sworn in as member of the Constitutional Court. Mattarella was elected 12th President of the Republic in 2015 and was re-elected President in January 2022.
Italy, like Portugal, is working on driving digitalization, innovation, and competitiveness across sectors while ensuring culture can be a vehicle for peace and dialogue.
The international context in which we are holding our discussion has changed profoundly, and we cannot ignore the Russian Federation’s unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine. We stand by the Ukrainian people and, while the fate of Europe is at stake, it seems more necessary than ever to have the courage to look to the future, to imagine how culture can be a vehicle for peace.
For our countries, therefore, the theme chosen for this year’s meeting could not be more stimulating. Indeed, we have always considered culture to be an engine for growth, research, and development.
I believe that it is impossible to reflect on the future of mankind without considering it connected to the world of innovation and technology. Innovation and technology are two elements that are powerfully driving this phase of our lives and I believe that, if properly governed, they can act as multipliers of knowledge and drivers of growth.
Creativity and innovation feed, as is well known, lines that are not only virtual or service-based, but are organically linked to production chains of goods. Think, for a moment, of design products or fashion. From yesterday’s “technical” tools, innovation and technology now find themselves defining parallel worlds, in the virtual and cyber domains, with a revolution in the logics and hierarchies that have traditionally governed this space.
The intertwining with areas that have grown in importance over time is flourishing. Such as education and training, tourism, health and well-being, and environmental sustainability.
In the same reaction to the pandemic, innovative models of cultural and educational use have emerged, towards an integration of knowledge. The use of innovation and technology makes it possible to overcome, in complex territories such as those of our countries, the very notion of center and periphery, of metropolitan areas with an intense quality of modernity, and the development and inland or rural areas destined to be marginalized.
It is enough to think that, in Italy, the cultural industry as a whole accounted for EUR84.6 billion in 2020. The EU appears to be aware of the link between innovation and culture, with initiatives such as the New European Bauhaus. This is a recent proposal by the Commission which, through innovative and interdisciplinary solutions, aims to link culture, technology, innovation, art, and science. We need to invest in this direction, and we need to do it today.
Italy, with its National Recovery and Resilience Plan, has decided to allocate substantial resources to the culture sector—more than EUR7 billion—including measures for digitalization, innovation, and competitiveness, together with the regeneration of small villages with initiatives to enhance and restore their artistic and architectural heritage. It is my increasingly strong conviction that we need to accelerate towards achieving “European sovereignty” also in the technological field.
The pandemic crisis and the war crisis tell us how crucial cooperation is. Our ability to compete and provide our fellow citizens with a solid framework of security depend on innovation. It is essential for the EU to give itself strategic autonomy.
We have moved beyond the phase in which innovation means merely automating production processes. Today, we are being challenged by AI and machine learning, raising fundamental questions. How can we reaffirm the centrality of the person in models determined, so often, by superintelligence and potentially autonomous development?
At a time when war has returned to the European continent, with thousands of victims and devastating destruction that so rips apart human lives and places, we must tenaciously reaffirm that culture and innovation must be instruments of dialogue, peace, and the future.
Our three foundations must continue to play a valuable, stimulating role. I hope that in such a difficult international context, we will be able to make it our own and reaffirm the threads that bind the peoples of Europe together, which cannot be broken by those who have resorted to the brutality of violence and war.
PORTUGAL - Diplomacy
President, National Tourism Board of Portugal and European Travel Commission (ETC)
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