The merciless scrutiny of the Italian economy outlined and published by the European Commission on Wednesday is a rude awakening after the long standstill continued until the European vote on May 26. A blatant and unwelcomed recall that has come after over a month in which, as per tradition, tones and reasons of the election campaign had catalyzed everything in Italian politics, as far as completely freezing the cabinet’s activity.
The Commission’s recommendations to Italy are the product of an analysis that would have considered the national program presented in April and the reports published by European authorities at the beginning of the year. Still, the fact is that beyond the specific weight of official statistics, the complexity of the indecipherable European budgetary rules is such as to make them, in the first place, instruments at all neutral subject to the political discretion of Brussels and aimed at helping friendly governments or sanctioning the hostile ones. Just like Italy.
Today, the European recommendations are therefore a warning to our Country about the irrevocability of contractual obligations that are inescapable and whose specific weight goes far beyond the mere influence of a Commission that is in any case leaving. As per tradition of weary times within the “government of change” and, perhaps, even sensing the mounting storm, at the beginning of the week Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has launched an ultimatum to his quarrelsome allies asking for an end to “sterile and useless polemics” and an assumption of responsibility too long delayed. The so-called “people’s lawyer” then demanded a full mandate to conduct negotiations with Brussels, fully aligning himself with the position of the head of State Sergio Mattarella – who had long called for more conciliatory tones in the dialogue with EU authorities.
The fact that the League-M5S contrast had almost reached a dangerous point of no return is certified by the armed peace hastily signed by Salvini and Di Maio a few hours after the resounding European rejection. Only time will tell if the face-to-face meeting between the two vice premiers has been able to bury the aftermath of the election campaign and the late May vote, which has completely changed their balance of power. The Carroccio leader gave himself 15 days to verify if the executive is really able to survive, while the political chief of the M5S is grappling with a party still in shock after the electoral meltdown.
The agreement on the contents of the unblock sites decree and its subsequent approval by the Senate on Thursday are the signals that for now the dreaded casus belli has been defused and the government can continue. A partial cabinet reshuffle might follow. If the M5S does not intend to surrender Defense (Trenta) and Environment (Costa), Infrastructure appears much more precarious, with Minister Toninelli who could become the 5Star scapegoat after the many “No” to the pro-development initiatives of its ruling coalition allies. For its part, the League does not want to seize the poisoned fruit of Economy Ministry but has claimed for itself the European Affairs department.