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Is the Franco-German axis over? Brothers of Italy think so

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at an EU summit in Brussels
Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at an EU summit in Brussels Copyright Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Giorgia Orlandi
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What’s behind Meloni’s disappointment over the EU job nomination package?


Last week, Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni blocked the EU job nomination package, including abstaining from voting for Ursula von der Leyen as European Commission president.

The deal was problematic both in “method and merit,” Meloni argued. In front of the Italian parliament, she said it was “undemocratic” because it didn’t take into account the people’s vote.

After the double “no” to Kaja Kallas as EU foreign policy chief and Antonio Costa as European Council president, questions were raised in Brussels and Rome about whether Italy would be isolated. Others believe it’s just a way for the Italian leader to buy more time.

With only a couple of weeks to go before the vote on the most powerful EU job, we asked the lower house group leader of Meloni's Brothers of Italy party what was behind her stance.

“The goal of the top EU job appointments is to acknowledge the message that has come out of the polls, which says that both (Emmanuel) Macron’s and (Olaf) Scholz’s policies have been rejected by voters,” Tommaso Foti told Euronews.

Italy and Italians first

A government elected by the people and not a technocratic one is what Giorgia Meloni has always stood for since before she became prime minister, and it’s one of the founding principles of her government.

This time, the debate about “decisions being taken by a small group of people” is about what’s happening within the EU institutions. Enzo Moavero Milanesi, former EU affairs minister, told Euronews Italy won’t risk being isolated in the EU.

But it’s clear that after the EU vote under Meloni, the Italian government wants to be seen and heard more than in the past. The “Italy and Italians first” is one of the main promises Meloni has always wanted to deliver.

For the Brothers of Italy, Brussels has to acknowledge that the shift to the right is happening in Europe according to the will of the people.

"We don’t see why we should still believe in the Franco-German axis when it has been demolished by the voters in both countries,” says Foti.

'Ball is in Meloni's court'

According to Milanesi, who also served as Italy's foreign minister, Meloni is pursuing a political strategy, and that’s what counts.

“The ball is in the Italian PM’s court. The way EU institutions are elected is very different from national elections,” said Milanesi, adding that in Meloni’s case, she is also the President of the ECR group.

"So when it comes to top EU job appointments, the two roles have an impact on the strategy she will follow."

According to Milanesi, many different factors will influence the Italian government’s choices in Europe. All of them count when it comes to politics.

The outcome of the French elections will also be an element in the mix, political analyst Roberto Arditti said.

“It will clarify even more how strong the right-wing parties across Europe are inside national governments,” Arditti told Euronews.

Even if National Rally's Marine Le Pen and Meloni would have to find a way to live with their political differences, Arditti says: “It’s hard to imagine that the power balances in Brussels will exclude both the French and Italian governments if both have a right-wing majority”.

Besides the top EU job nominations and the Italian disappointment that followed, Meloni is focusing on one thing: getting a top commission post for Italy. Without it, she won’t be able to show Italian voters that Rome can be heard in Europe.

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