Giorgia Meloni: Europe watches her and in Italy they distrust

She has been head of Government of Italy for just two months, the first Italian to reach that position. In principle, Giorgia Meloni (Rome, 45 years old) is being careful to shed its more conservative imprints on social issues and immigration linked to his active neo-fascist past. The leader of Fratelli d’Italia knows well that she does not enjoy the confidence of her counterparts in the European Union, that he has to earn them by assuring that he is above all a Europeanist and an Atlanticist; and that in the Russian war in the Ukraine his government will continue to supply weapons to Volodimir Zelensky. And this was reflected in the recent parliamentary support in the face of the doubts of Matteo Salvini and Silvio Berlusconi, leaders of the League and Forza Italia, respectively, the two groups that make up the ultra-conservative coalition together with Fratelli d’Italia. out of the elections last September. And while the initial jubilation of the most conservative population loses strength. With or without Meloni, the economy is on the verge of a recession.

Meloni has two faces, the external and the internal. His neo-fascist past is difficult to erase. In the EU, it has not yet played a major role in its meetings with its counterparts. He suspended his presence at the Euro-Mediterranean summit earlier this month in Alicante due to the flu and with this he was unable to celebrate his first bilateral meeting with Pedro Sánchez. The head of the Spanish Government does not have her among her favorites: he took a few days to congratulate her on her triumph. He preferred Giuseppe Conte, head of the populist Cinque Stelle, or to follow Mario Draghi, the great defender of the euro in 2012 whatever it takes when he was president of the European Central Bank (ECB). With Super Mariohis predecessor as chief, Meloni has good relations, as a teacher and student, as well as with the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, from whom he asks for advice as soon as possible. To the extent that the new Minister of Economy and Finance, Giancarlo Giorgetti, was in the past Draghi Government. Meloni would have preferred a technician rather than an official, a member of the League, with modest knowledge of economics and set her sights on Fabio Panetta, a prestigious economist member of the ECB executive committee, but he declined because he aspires to be governor of the Bank of Italy and He also knows that the life of governments in Italy is not very long (barely a year and a half on average).

Regarding his international face, beyond attending the G-20 summit in Indonesia, the Balkans in Albania and the last of the year for community leaders in Brussels, Meloni has had a head-on clash with Emmanuel Macron’s Franceirritated by Rome’s attitude of not welcoming two hundred African migrants rescued by a ship belonging to a French NGO. Sparks flew in Paris with Rome. Macron threatened to break the agreement to receive and relocate 3,500 migrant refugees temporarily on Italian territory. The EU has reminded Italy, the third largest European economy, of the moral obligation and political commitment to welcome Africans adrift in Mediterranean waters. Meloni has bared his teeth with the joy of his government partner Salvini and proposes to further tighten surveillance and control in the Mediterranean with a kind of naval blockade. It is true that the problem, far from calming down, has worsened after the war in Ukraine and the food crisis in Africa as a result of it. This year the migratory flow from the north of the African continent is estimated at more than 90,000, which is equivalent to 50% more than in 2021.

Paris and Rome will have to smooth things over. For the good of the EU it will be prudent for France not to put Italy on a list of “usual suspects” along with Hungary and Poland. Meloni has good relations with the Hungarian Viktor Orban. He is not just any partner. Has received the biggest loot from post covid community funds Next Generation ahead of Spain (200,000 million euros). Meloni wants to reconsider the fate of some of the items to now be able to face the energy crisis in the face of the reluctant position of Brussels. Italy depended on more than 40% of Russian gas before the Ukrainian war that broke out last February. Since then, fuel and food prices in general have skyrocketed and inflation has run amok to reach more than 11%. The ultra-conservative Executive, like part of the transalpine media, described as interference a statement by the French Minister for European Affairs, Laurence Boone, announcing that there will be surveillance on what Meloni does. Some Italian analysts warn that this type of manifestations can generate a behavior of isolation and more radical positions from Meloni.

In the internal chapter, the prime minister has just presented to Parliament her first general budgets aimed at combating inflation. Among other measures, they include a modest pension reform with an increase to 600 from the current 520 euros of the minimum pension, the anticipation of retirement age at 62, the reduction of VAT on basic necessities or the discount on the fuel price. But the elimination as of 2024 of the so-called citizenship income is announced, an allocation that the then Conte government approved in 2018 for people in social exclusion and the unemployed. The latter is what has led to the unions being put on a war footing and the first protest demonstrations against the government. In any case, Meloni has guaranteed the approval of Parliament as he has a comfortable majority.

The economic outlook is rather bleak as across the EU. Italy has an uncontrollable debt, which worsened with the covid to 152% of GDP. The economy in 2021 is expected to have grown around 2%, but the International Monetary Fund forecasts that the beautiful country it will follow in the footsteps of Germany in 2023 and enter a recession. YoItaly is one of the countries hardest hit by the energy crisis due to its dependence on Russian supply. Meloni has supported the EU initiative to put a cap on the price of gas if prices exceed 180 euros, approved by the Twenty-seven with the only contrary vote of Hungary and the abstention of Austria and the Netherlands.

Giorgia Meloni, journalist, practicing Catholic, of modest social background, coupled with another journalist and mother of a girl, Despite her age, she is a veteran politician, but without experience in issues as delicate as foreign policy or the economy. He has magnificent relations with Vox. He has appointed Antonio Tajani, former president of the European Parliament, member of Forza Italia and a former trusted man of the unpredictable and now more than ever histrionic Berlusconi, who is not shy about stating that Vladimir Putin is a man of peace with the that it continues to be friendly even though it condemns the invasion of Ukraine. The appointment of Tajani, a politician who has close contacts with the Popular Party, has not gone down badly in community circles. The other vice president is Salvini, Minister of Infrastructure. He wanted the Interior portfolio in order to repeat his radical anti-immigration policy as in the Conte government in 2018. Meloni refused, but agreed to put an individual on his rope, Matteo Piantedosi, who was his chief of staff when he was minister .

Giorgia Meloni has embarked on an adventure in a stormy ocean with two lieutenants, Salvini and to a lesser extent Berlusconi (this one from the outside), unreliable and subject to peculiar mood swings, whom she will have to keep an eye on, especially the former. Nothing ensures that his government will be long-lived. If he has something in his favor, it is that the left is in tatters after the September elections.

Giorgia Meloni: Europe watches her and in Italy they distrust