Italy and the Future of the European Union

Italy and the Future of the European Union

Tuesday, 29 November 2022 - 5:00pm to 6:45pm
ESC Seminar Room
Giuliano Amato (former Prime Minister of Italy)
Maurizio Molinari (Editor in Chief, La Repubblica)
Timothy Garton Ash (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Anna Chimenti (Academic Visitor, St Antony’s College, Oxford)

Registration through Eventbrite is recommended but not compulsory

The victory of Giorgia Meloni, leader of the radical right-wing party "Brothers of Italy" in the Italian general election on September 25th, and her rise to become the first female head of government in the history of the Italian Republic, adds a new ally to a front opposed to European integration led by Hungary's Orban and Poland's Morawiecki. Will Italy in Europe continue with its traditional alliances with France, Germany and Spain, as outgoing PM Draghi suggested to the incoming Prime Minister? Or will it usher in a turning point that will increase the difficulties encountered by French President Macron in an attempt to accelerate Europe's integration process?

Throughout the electoral campaign, Meloni maintained a position with respect to Europe more similar to that of Poland, that is: full Atlantic solidarity with NATO, whilst also belonging to a front of nationalist and populist leaders from Le Pen in France, to the Swedish Democrats of Jimmie Akesson, to the landscape of RWPP that have expanded their space in Europe in the most recent electoral rounds. In this sense, Meloni, together with Salvini, leader of Italy's Northern League, voted in favour of Orban and against the condemnation directed towards him on September 16th at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

However, after the electoral victory and during negotiations to form the government, Meloni has begun to take different, less radical positions and to compromise with Italy's traditional allies. She has done so even with France, whose PM Elisabeth Borne had harsh words for Meloni in the immediate aftermath of the electoral victory. Not entirely unexpectedly, the new Italian Prime Minister has taken an attitude of great caution with respect to the line-ups in Europe. First, she assured Zelenskyy that Italy will continue to provide military aid to Ukraine. Then she attempted to open a channel of communication with Macron, linked to the need, which the French President shares, to obtain a revision of the EU Recover Plan based on the growth in inflation. Meloni was also interested in the prospect of a "Recovery plan" for the energy crisis, which affects Italy just like it does France, with its prohibitively high gas and fuel prices.

Image credit: "Como Cathedral - Piazza Duomo, Como - Italian and EU flag" by ell brown is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.