Italy’s far-right Prime Minister Meloni meets EU chiefs


Far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has pledged to put Italy’s interests first

Andreas SOLARO

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Italy’s new far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni meets European Union chiefs in Brussels on Thursday for the first time since his election, with the energy crisis set to dominate the agenda.

Nationalist Meloni has pledged to put Italy’s interests first, and the trip will be closely watched amid fears of turbulent relations to come between Rome’s populist government and bloc powers.

“Brussels shouldn’t be doing what Rome knows how to do best,” Meloni said in a book to be published on Friday, castigating “a Europe that is invasive in the little things and absent in the big things.”

On his first international trip since taking office, Meloni is meeting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council Head Charles Michel and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.

It will be the first face-to-face meeting since von der Leyen angered Italy’s right-wing parties ahead of September’s general election by warning of consequences if the country strays from democratic principles.

But Italy’s first female prime minister, the most right-wing head of government since World War II, will land in the Belgian capital on diplomatic rather than war footing, political analyst Lorenzo Codogno told AFP. .

“Meloni is pragmatic and wants to be seen as a moderate and traditional leader,” he said.

Meloni is expected to stress the urgency of concrete European measures to reduce energy prices, a battle started by his predecessor Mario Draghi

Andreas SOLARO

The leader of the euro zone’s third-largest economy is expected to stress the urgency of concrete European measures to reduce exorbitant energy prices, a battle started by her predecessor Mario Draghi.

“The real focus will be on energy…the most pressing issue with winter approaching,” Codogno said, adding that Meloni will be determined “to show continuity with the Draghi government.”

Draghi joined other countries in calling for bloc-wide solutions to Ukraine’s war-aggravated energy crisis, rather than Germany’s controversial approach.

And Meloni also insisted that the continent’s worst energy crisis in decades should be dealt with “at EU level”.

The trip “won’t have any immediate practical consequences”, Italian daily Messaggero said, but it will help Meloni assess “what the prospects are” for help from the bloc on the country’s most pressing issues.

For their part, EU leaders hope to use the meeting to “better understand what Meloni intends to do”, said Sébastien Maillard, director of the Jacques Delors Institute.

“Beyond the messages of appeasement” – in which Meloni promised to support NATO and the West and distanced her Italian Brotherhood party from fascism – “she remained quite vague about her intentions”, he said. -he declares.

Brussels will tread carefully, fearful of pushing Meloni into other nationalist governments

Vincenzo PINTO

Brussels will be cautious, fearful of pushing Meloni into other nationalist governments in Hungary and Poland.

There is unlikely to be a showdown over the EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, which is funneling nearly 200 billion euros ($197 billion) to Italy on the condition that it implements implement major reforms.

While Meloni said she wanted to “adjust” the plan to take into account the rising cost of energy and raw materials, those adjustments – if they occur – will likely be handled on a technical level, Codogno said. .

Maillard agreed that “on economic issues (Meloni) has no interest in fighting with Brussels”.

“If it left the framework of Europe, it would be against Italian interests”.

But Brussels is unlikely to avoid a clash at some point over immigration, a burning issue for the right in Italy, which has long been a frontline entry point for migrants to Europe.


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