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Letta eyes Milan Expo 2015 boost as EU signs contract

Premier says world's fair will be good for Italian morale

09 December, 18:43
Letta eyes Milan Expo 2015 boost as EU signs contract (By Sandra Cordon) (ANSA) - Milan, December 9 - Milan Expo 2015 will give Italy the kind of boost to both its economy and its morale that the country enjoyed when Rome hosted the Olympics in 1960, Premier Enrico Letta said Monday.

"Expo 2015 will be a landmark event for our country and could have the same impact as the Olympics in Rome in 1960 that showed the world the Italian economic miracle of the '50s," following the destruction of the Second World War, Letta said as the European Union (EU) signed a participation contract for the world's fair.

"(Expo) will be an opportunity to show that the country is starting to grow again," added Letta, who has said he is confident the Italy economy is already emerging from its worst recession since the Second World War and will show growth in its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014.

Hosting the world's fair will also raise Italian spirits and give the country a boost on the European stage by lifting Milan's profile as a world-class city, he said.

"Expo is an important event for the future of our country and now clearly there is a perception that Milan, through Expo, will be a European capital," Letta said at a joint news conference with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. The EC is the executive body of the EU.

Concluded Letta: "The millions of visitors who come to Milan in 2015 will find a better country...(with) recovery, growth, jobs, a reduction of unemployment and economic development".

The premier also noted that in the second half of 2014, Italy will hold the six-month rotating presidency of the EU, further heightening the country's profile within Europe.

Approximately 140 nations and entities have formally agreed to participate in Milan Expo 2015, which will focus on food security and sustainability under the theme 'Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life'.

To date, 83 entities have signed full participation contracts at Expo, including the EU which plans to host a pavilion that will measure about 1,900 meters in size.

More than 20 million visitors and participants are expected during the world's fair that will run from May, 2015 through the end of October 2015.

Barroso linked Expo's emphasis on food stability with broader issues of poverty, which he said are of critical importance.

"We must do more to raise public awareness of the issue of food security," said Barroso.

"You can be assured that the European Commission will meet its commitment to ensure the success of the Expo," he added. Italian leaders are pinning high hopes on the world's fair.

Last week, President Giorgio Napolitano said he was certain that Milan Expo 2015 will help Italy's economy.

"I'm convinced that Milan Expo 2015 will be a remarkable opportunity for recovery and renewed economic and social growth," said Napolitano.

Preparations have been under way on Expo's 1.1-million-square-meter site and the event is expected to generate millions of euros for Italy's business capital.

Italy last hosted a World's Fair in 1992 with a Christopher Columbus theme in Genoa, the explorer's hometown.