After the traditional Christmas recess, the two branches of Parliament dedicated themselves to a high-intensity restart. As early as Wednesday, in fact, the Chamber gave final approval to the conversion into law of the decree containing some “urgent provisions” on the so-called “Mattei Plan for Africa,” which, in the intentions of the Meloni government, is intended to be an ambitious project for the development and deepening of international relations between Italy and African countries. To date, what has been approved by Parliament is the establishment of an ad hoc Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Meloni with Minister Tajani in the role of Vice-President, and the definition of a Mission Structure within which projects and initiatives for and with African countries will be managed in order to promote economic-social development on the ground and thus disfavor irregular immigration. The actual Plan, with details of the missions and priorities for action, will subsequently have to be launched by a decree of the Prime Minister after the relevant parliamentary committees have been consulted. In the will of the government, initiatives will range in all sectors, from energy to aerospace, from training to agriculture with the ultimate goal of making Italy a regional power of reference straddling Europe, the Mediterranean and Africa.
Also particularly awaited in Parliament were Defense Minister Crosetto’s communications on the extension of military aid to Ukraine. Crosetto stressed “strong and unaltered” support for Kiev and explained that taking a step back at this time “would be a dramatic strategic and political mistake”. The willingness to proceed with sending military assets and resources to Ukraine through 2024 was shared by the Assemblies of deputies and senators who voted in favor of the majority resolution, along with those of Azione\IV and the PD, albeit partly reworded. While the center-right appeared so united and aligned on the issue, however, stealing the show in the Chamber was the PD, which, as in the past, split on the issue. Among the ranks of the Dems, in fact, there were those who disagreed with the strategy adopted by the party to vote only on its own resolution, abstaining instead on all the others, in order to more strongly mark a distance from the center-right a few months before the European elections. First in the Chamber and then in the Senate, some “dissidents” including Copasir Chairman Lorenzo Guerini, voted in favor of the resolution presented by the majority where military support for Kiev was reiterated, going against the line chosen by their own party and causing a further internal rift.
In any case, the resolutions passed in Parliament commit the executive on a double track: on the one hand, the continuation of support for Ukraine in line with its international commitments, and on the other hand, the commitment to deepen every possible diplomatic effort in all appropriate fora. And in this, Italy can play a major role, especially in light of its new assignment with the beginning of the year to the rotating presidency of the G7. It is not surprising then that Giorgia Meloni’s 2024 appears to be focusing heavily on foreign policy, already filling the Premier’s agenda in the first weeks of the year. Indeed, on January 20 Meloni is expected to fly for her first time to Istanbul for a bilateral with Turkish President Erdogan, whose positioning is central to the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, while by the end of the month she could be received at the Elysee Palace by French President Macron. Instead, on February 1 she is expected in Brussels for the EU Council, which should be followed by a visit to Tokyo for the official handover between Japan and Italy for the G7 presidency. But on the international level, one eye is always on the European elections scheduled for June 6-9, which represent a decisive step in verifying the government’s concrete international positioning but above all the balance of power within the majority itself. It is certainly no secret that the appointment in question is destined to redefine – to be understood how and how much – the balances of the coalition and in part is already doing so with the ongoing discussion on the possible candidacy of party leaders, starting with the most illustrious namely that of Meloni herself.