Politics & Economics

The European Council’s Unresolved Issues

March 2023
By Gianni Pittella

The European Council held last week left more issues open than it managed to resolve, leading to both successes and failures for Italy in terms of positioning with other member states.

Starting with the successes, it is important to note the renewed bond with France, hoping it will last. Among the common interests to defend, there is certainly that of advancing a shared vision on economic governance, for which Italy and France are traditionally aligned.

France also received Italian support on a matter that particularly concerns it, namely the inclusion of nuclear power among the sources for the transition, which in the French case already constitutes the main source for the production of electricity. This support, not taken for granted from a country traditionally hostile to nuclear like Italy, is also due to the initiative of the Third Pole, which committed the government in this direction, with the approval of parts of the resolution presented to the Senate in view of the European Council.

From this point opens the second positive aspect of this European Council: the Government can count, in reasonable cases, on broader support than the government majority, strengthening the executive’s position in negotiations. It is hoped that other opposition forces may abandon uncompromising criticism and support the Government on national interest issues, voting for the most agreeable parts of resolutions, for example, those related to sending military support to Ukraine.

Moving to the critical aspects of this European Council, the migratory issue must first be considered. Despite being the Italian priority, the topic was dedicated to a simple point in the conclusions, which reiterates that migration is a European challenge that requires a European response, asking for rapid implementation of all agreed points and announcing that it will review the implementation in June. Despite government proclamations, the issue is therefore still open.

Another aspect where the Italian government would have had a strong position to defend is the automotive sector. In this case, Italy found itself isolated on the issue of biofuels, failing to consolidate the bloc of countries that would be most damaged by a transition with only electric vehicles, namely Germany and the Eastern European countries that supply Germany. Finally, there is the PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan), with the risks discussed these days that the country may not be able to achieve all investments in time for the disbursement of payments: although presumably a solution will be found, the problem of the spending capacity of local authorities remains to be solved. Therefore, the Government still has much to do to strengthen its position in Europe, and the role of the oppositions should be to constructively criticize the Meloni executive, cheering together for our country.