Italy has been firmly in the Western orbit for decades and its aspiration to revive its economy using European funds can only strengthen this alignment. The reason is that the EU itself has no choice with respect to the Atlantic link with the United States, certainly not in the near future and not before Germany really tries to detach from the United States, writes Valdai Club expert Orietta Moscatelli.
Accompanied by enormous expectations at home and throughout Europe, Mario Draghi has become the new prime minister of Italy. It is a country in search of a vaccine for itself that has lost its antibodies for renewal; for too long it has been hostage to its huge public debt burden and short-term policies.
The former president of the European Central Bank is called upon to quickly develop a plan to take advantage of the historic opportunity to use the funds allocated by Europe: 209 billion USD for Italy alone out of a total of over 2,000 billion. It is the third time in thirty years that a high-profile finance coach has been sent to the government by the President of the Republic to whom the Constitution guarantees the role of a referee in particularly delicate moments. For the third time, the emergency has been triggered as Italy finds itself at a crossroads in its relationship with Europe, at risk of expulsion in the first two cases, and has attempted to leave the chorus in recent years.
In 1993 the former governor of the Bank of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, was co-opted to ensure Italy’s entry into the eurozone. In 2011, former European commissioner Mario Monti was chosen to quickly restore public finances and reduce the risk of default. These two moments have re-aligned Italy within the context of the European economy and at the same time resulted in the gestation phase of new experiences in their own way: revolutionary breaking points which were followed by great changes. In the mid-nineties, Silvio Berlusconi emerged as the new protagonist of Italian politics, a forerunner of populism in government after the fall of the Berlin Wall and a source of inspiration for various politicians, not only Italians. In the second episode, the drastic measures introduced by the Monti government contributed to the maturation in record time of “populism from below”, with the Five Star Movement (M5S) catapulted to power first in a strange tandem with the sovereign forces of the Lega di Matteo Salvini, then in an even stranger alliance with the centre-left of the Democratic Party (PD).
In addition to the economy, the new prime minister will control foreign policy, regardless of whether Luigi Di Maio remains in the Foreign Ministry. The prime minister also eliminated the proxy for relations with Europe: the confrontation with Brussels will now be managed without ministerial filters. This is not surprising. Draghi is pro-European in deed even more than in word. He himself is proof that the internal politics of the member countries are largely carried out in Brussels and Frankfurt. He is certainly an Atlantist, not so much because he worked for Goldman Sachs, but as a logical consequence of a historical observation, now reinforced by the economic situation. Italy has been firmly in the Western orbit for decades and its aspiration to revive its economy using European funds can only strengthen this alignment. The reason is that the EU itself has no choice with respect to the Atlantic link with the United States, certainly not in the near future and not before Germany really tries to detach from the United States, a plan that Angela Merkel at times seems to have pursued. In recent years, the sovereign and populist followers who came to rule in Rome have struggled to digest the notion that the Atlantic bond does not allow for digressions. M5S flirted with China to get investments (which didn’t come). Salvini looked to Russia, first of all for reasons of consensus in productive Northern Italy, which considers international sanctions an own goal, a self-inflicted mistake. Escapades delaying a quick return to the Atlantic house, moreover, are viewed with suspicion and therefore exhibit less authority than before.