Italy’s EU partners vigilant as far right set to take power

Sep 26, 2022, 8:24 AM | Updated: 8:54 am
FILE - Brothers of Italy's Giorgia Meloni attends the center-right coalition closing rally in Rome,...

FILE - Brothers of Italy's Giorgia Meloni attends the center-right coalition closing rally in Rome, Sept. 22, 2022. Italy’s European Union partners are signaling discomfort and vigilance after one of the bloc’s founding members swung far to the political right, raising troubling questions about whether Rome will maintain its commitments to EU principles, laws and ambitions. The French prime minister on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 said that France, along with EU officials, would be watching closely to ensure that basic human rights rights along with access to abortion, are guaranteed in Italy after Giorgia Meloni’s neo-fascist Brother’s of Italy Party topped the vote count in Sunday’s parliamentary election. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, file)

(AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, file)

BRUSSELS (AP) — Italy’s European Union partners are signaling discomfort, even vigilance, after Italy, one of the bloc’s founding members, swung far to the political right. The result of Italy’s latest election raises troubling questions about whether Rome will maintain its commitments to EU principles, laws and ambitions.

The French prime minister on Monday said her government, along with EU officials, would be watching to ensure that basic human rights are guaranteed in Italy after Giorgia Meloni’s neo-fascist far-right Brothers of Italy Party topped the vote count in Sunday’s parliamentary election.

“In Europe, we uphold some values and obviously we will ensure, and the president of the commission will ensure, that these values — on human rights, the respect of other people, especially the respect of the right to abortion — will be respected by all (member states),” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told French broadcaster BFM TV.

Such statements among the longtime EU partners are highly unusual and follow European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s pre-election warning that Europe “has the tools” to deal with any country — and that means Italy too — if things go “in a difficult direction.”

The 27-nation European Union is already beset by challenges, including rising inflation and energy costs, and it does not need the threat that a far-right Italian leader might joint a strident nationalist bloc, including Hungary and Poland, that has repeatedly assailed EU democratic standards.

European leaders will be watching to see which Meloni emerges: the firebrand who has railed against LGBT rights, Islamist violence and mass migration as well as Brussels’ bureaucrats, or the one who has toned down her rhetoric in recent weeks and has backed EU support for Ukraine.

“It is too early to tell what will change for the EU and its balance of power,” said Arturo Varvelli, from the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

On the one hand, Varelli said, Meloni’s focus on Italy’s national interests will not help strengthen European sovereignty.

“However, Meloni has also changed her political line in recent months, for example, with regard to policy toward Russia,” he said. “This contributes to the unpredictability of the pro-European line of the future Italian government.”

The likelihood that a euroskeptic will head Italy, the EU’s third-largest economy, is a potential blow for a European project already struggling with nationalism. It also comes just weeks after a party founded by extremists became the second-largest one in Sweden’s parliament.

Predictably, right-wing parties across Europe were fortified by the result.

“Sweden in the north, Italy in the south: Left-wing governments are so yesterday,” tweeted Beatrix von Storch, a leading member of the Alternative for Germany party.

Portugal’s populist Chega said Italy’s shift to the right heralds a “political reconfiguration” in Europe. After the election outcome in Sweden, the party said, it is “Italy’s turn to send a clear signal that the European continent is undergoing deep change.”

Dutch anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders tweeted an image of the Italian flag with the words: VIVA ITALIA and a heart emoji.

But of most immediate concern at EU headquarters in Brussels is probably whether Meloni will link with Hungary and Poland to target one of the key pieces of European legal architecture: that EU treaties and law must have primacy over national law.

Hungary and Poland have used Europe’s top court to challenge the EU’s legitimacy on issues including migration policy and judicial independence. Hungary, notably, is blocking sanctions against Russia, but is also a thorn in the EU’s side in many other areas ranging from tax policy to foreign policy statements.

With Italy on board, things could be far more complex for the EU, given the routine need for unanimous votes from the 27 member countries.

“One of the EU’s basic dilemmas — unity versus ambition — has become much more difficult following the Italian elections,” tweeted Janis Emmanouilidis at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre think tank.

There has also been concern about whether Meloni’s likely coalition partner, right-wing League leader Matteo Salvini, will return to Italy’s interior ministry, from where he once led a crackdown on migrant arrivals from northern Africa and any charity groups that might try to help them. Meloni herself has called for a naval blockade to prevent migrant boats from leaving African shores, and both she and Salvini want Europe to screen potential asylum-seekers in Africa.

But even without a shift in position in Italy, the EU is already deeply divided over asylum policy and focused on outsourcing its migration challenges to the countries people leave or transit to get to Europe.

Meloni also has suggested that she wants to renegotiate parts of the pandemic economic recovery package agreed with Brussels, which is worth close to $200 billion to Italy — a significant amount given its massive debt problem. Political opponents at home have raised concerns about her ability to properly administer the funds, a perennial issue for Italy.

In Brussels, the EU commission declined to comment on the election result or the fact that many voters had chosen anti-European parties. “We of course hope that we will have constructive cooperation with the new Italian authorities,” spokesman Eric Mamer said.

___

Barry reported from Milan. Sylvie Corbet in Paris, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin and Barry Hatton in Lisbon contributed to this story.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              FILE - French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivers a statement following a weekly cabinet meeting and a government seminar at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. Italy’s European Union partners are signaling discomfort and vigilance after one of the bloc’s founding members swung far to the political right, raising troubling questions about whether Rome will maintain its commitments to EU principles, laws and ambitions. The French prime minister on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 said that France, along with EU officials, would be watching closely to ensure that basic human rights rights along with access to abortion, are guaranteed in Italy after Giorgia Meloni’s neo-fascist Brother’s of Italy Party topped the vote count in Sunday’s parliamentary election.  (Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool via AP, File)
            
              FILE - European Commission President Ursula Van Der Leyen speaks during the presentation of the Slovenian Presidency during a plenary session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, eastern France, Tuesday, July 6, 2021.  Italy’s European Union partners are signaling discomfort and vigilance after one of the bloc’s founding members swung far to the political right, raising troubling questions about whether Rome will maintain its commitments to EU principles, laws and ambitions. The French prime minister on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 said that France, along with EU officials, would be watching closely to ensure that basic human rights rights along with access to abortion, are guaranteed in Italy after Giorgia Meloni’s neo-fascist Brother’s of Italy Party topped the vote count in Sunday’s parliamentary election. (Christian Hartmannn, Pool Photo via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Hungary President Viktor Orban arrives at the NATO Heads of State summit in Madrid, June 30, 2022. Italy’s European Union partners are signaling discomfort and vigilance after one of the bloc’s founding members swung far to the political right, raising troubling questions about whether Rome will maintain its commitments to EU principles, laws and ambitions. The French prime minister on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 said that France, along with EU officials, would be watching closely to ensure that basic human rights rights along with access to abortion, are guaranteed in Italy after Giorgia Meloni’s neo-fascist Brother’s of Italy Party topped the vote count in Sunday’s parliamentary election. (Bertrand Guay, Pool via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Party leader of the Sweden Democrats Jimmie Akesson gives a speech during the party's election watch at the Elite Hotel Marina Tower in Nacka, near Stockholm, Sweden, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022. Italy’s European Union partners are signaling discomfort and vigilance after one of the bloc’s founding members swung far to the political right, raising troubling questions about whether Rome will maintain its commitments to EU principles, laws and ambitions. The French prime minister on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 said that France, along with EU officials, would be watching closely to ensure that basic human rights rights along with access to abortion, are guaranteed in Italy after Giorgia Meloni’s neo-fascist Brother’s of Italy Party topped the vote count in Sunday’s parliamentary election. (Stefan Jerrevång/TT News Agency via AP, File)
            
              FILE - Brothers of Italy's Giorgia Meloni attends the center-right coalition closing rally in Rome, Sept. 22, 2022. Italy’s European Union partners are signaling discomfort and vigilance after one of the bloc’s founding members swung far to the political right, raising troubling questions about whether Rome will maintain its commitments to EU principles, laws and ambitions. The French prime minister on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022 said that France, along with EU officials, would be watching closely to ensure that basic human rights rights along with access to abortion, are guaranteed in Italy after Giorgia Meloni’s neo-fascist Brother’s of Italy Party topped the vote count in Sunday’s parliamentary election.  (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, file)

AP

FILE - Grey clouds cover the sky over a building of the Credit Suisse bank in Zurich, Switzerland, ...
Associated Press

Credit Suisse posts $1.4B pre-tax loss as woes go on in 4Q

GENEVA (AP) — Credit Suisse on Thursday reported a pre-tax loss of more than 1.3 billion Swiss francs (about $1.4 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, as its new managers vie to right the top-drawer Swiss bank that has faced a string of setbacks in recent years. The bank also announced the $175 […]
3 hours ago
Associated Press

3 dead in apartment building fire in Novosibirsk, Russia

MOSCOW (AP) — A gas explosion in an apartment building in the south-central Russian city of Novosibirsk Thursday morning killed three people, according to the latest reports from local authorities. Novosibirsk is the administrative capital of Siberia and Russia’s third-largest city by population. Regional Gov. Andrey Travnikov confirmed the deaths of three people, noting that […]
3 hours ago
FILE - A staff of Nissan car showroom wipes a car on Jan. 31, 2022, in Tokyo. Nissan reported a 55%...
Associated Press

Japan’s Nissan reports better profit as chip crunch eases

TOKYO (AP) — Nissan reported a 55% jump in October-December profit Thursday, as the Japanese automaker seeks to embark on a less bumpy journey with its French alliance partner Renault. Profit for the quarter at Yokohama-based Nissan Motor Co. totaled 50.6 billion yen ($386 million), up from 32.7 billion yen the previous year. Quarterly sales […]
3 hours ago
Heavy machinery moves coal as it is poured onto a stack near Muswellbrook in the Hunter Valley, Aus...
Associated Press

Australia rejects new coal mine on environmental grounds

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has for the first time rejected a coal mining application based on environmental law. The government is under pressure to curb climate change by blocking all new coal and gas extraction projects. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of both fossil fuels, which are major sources of the […]
3 hours ago
Raqiya Abdsalam, who survived a bout of dengue fever, sits at her home in El-Obeid, Sudan on Januar...
Associated Press

Sudan’s tropical disease spike reflects poor health system

EL OBEID, Sudan (AP) — The two Sudanese women thought they had malaria and were taking their medication, but things took a dire turn. Both complained of a splitting headache and fever that didn’t respond to the anti-malaria treatment. By the time she was diagnosed with dengue fever, Raqiya Abdsalam was unconscious. “Soon after they […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. gestures during his speech at the 2022 Department ...
Associated Press

Japan, Philippines to sign plans to boost defense ties

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. are expected to sign key agreements to boost their defense ties Thursday as Asia sees tensions around China’s growing influence. Marcos is visiting Japan soon after he and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin reached agreements on allowing the United States […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Italy’s EU partners vigilant as far right set to take power