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Migrations, euro currency, budget: Italy and the EU “forced” to get along

Dublin, asylum and migratory pressures on the agenda of today’s Council of EU Home Affairs Ministers. It’s the first testing ground of relations between Rome and Brussels. No "interference" in national policies is allowed, while the rules and obligations undertaken at Community level must be respected

As known, political activity requires ideas, programs, leaders, along with mediation skills, “savoir faire” and diplomacy. This is all the more important in the international domain. The first test bed of the new Italian government is taking place in Luxembourg. Items on the agenda include Dublin Treaty reform, asylum, and migratory pressures – signed in its substantial part in 2003, under Prime Minister Berlusconi’s government with the League party – , ascribing the responsibility of migrants’ reception to the first country of arrival. The newly-appointed Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini made known that he would not attend the meeting owing to the Senate confidence vote ongoing today in Rome. He will be represented by a delegation tasked with opposing the proposed reform presented by the Bulgarian presidency-in-office.

It’s a fundamental step ahead of the European Council scheduled to take place in Brussels at the end of the month,

where, in addition to Dublin treaty reform and asylum-system (hence the migratory-package as a whole), heads of Government and State will discuss first-line issues such as the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (including a detailed breakdown of EU funding), security and defence, foreign policy, digital innovation. The EU summit meeting will see the first official presence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at Community level, after the international debut at the G7 meeting in Canada on June 8-9. 
For a long time the global and European arena suffered the impact of the economic and financial crisis, the threat of terrorism, the tensions in Middle-Eastern countries (Syria as well as other areas), the involution of global players (Russia, Turkey), growing migratory pressure that involves Asia, Africa and Europe, the unsettling decisions of the US President on several fronts, from tariffs to foreign policy (Iran, Korea, the Holy Land, relations with Moscow …).

The government coalition formed in Rome by the League and the Five Star Movement is faced with this convoluted situation.

Moreover, it’ quite evident that at international level the newly-formed executive is grappling with the diffident or prejudiced approaches voiced by political counterparts and news media outlets. Notably, leading newspapers in the US, Germany and the UK set their sights on Italy, hailed as populist and sovereignist, object of biting remarks (sometimes retracted or even distorted by the same news media) against the so-called “yellow-green government”, deemed unreliable for the future of the EU. 
 On the eve of the Council of Home Ministers in Luxembourg, influential French Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, tasked with the important responsibility of Economic and Financial Affairs, finally felt compelled to express a reassuring thought, reaffirming that the EU respects the democratic rules of each country and that relations with Italy will be “measured in deeds”, which is the way it should be. A few days ago Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the EU’s executive Commission,

had given the impression of wanting to “interfere” in Italian political life,

– his stand was reaffirmed with stronger tones by the German Commissioner Oettinger – thereby providing a good excuse to Italian supporters of anti-European stances and populist drives. This must not happen, unless –it is good to remember –EU interests, Treaty compliance, respect of jointly agreed regulations and commitments, are at stake. This is also true for the twofold, delicate realms of economic and monetary Union (common currency stability, debt reduction, deficit regulation) and reception of migrants. In this respect, while the declarations of the EU leadership should never give rise to claims of interference with Italian politics, the decisions made in Rome should be restrained. If Minister Luigi Di Maio says that “the needed funding will be taken at European tables”, with reference to government plans to introduce a set of reforms at national level, tightness and diffidence across Europe are unavoidable. Also because every national government knocks on the door of the European treasury (only to eventually stamp their feet to reduce the payments that make up the EU budget, required from each member state). The Italy-EU dialogue moves on in the framework of national sovereignty on the one side, of rules and commitments required as EU member country on the other, for a convergence aimed at the good of Italy and to a stronger European Union, the indispensable, invaluable “common European home” in the globalised era.

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