The consequences of EU nominations for Italy

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The appointment of the German Ursula von der Leyen to the head of the European Commission and the French Christine Lagarde to the European Central Bank certifies that the EU scepter remains firmly in the hands of Germany and France. One might well wonder how much the mechanism of intensive consultations established between Berlin and Paris with the recent Treaty of Aachen has weighted on the historic appointment of the two first women to lead Commission and Eurotower. It is a fact that despite the legacy of the May 26th European vote and the initial stalemate in the negotiations, the FrancoGerman bloc extended to the Spanish handmaid and the Nordic partners still managed to seal and impose the agreement on the rest of the continent. Proof of this is given by the designation of the Spanish Josep Borrell – a trusted associate of Prime Minister Sanchez – as High Commissioner for European Security and Defence Policy and outgoing Belgian Liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel – closely tied to the Elysée tenant – to that of President of the European Council. With all due respect to the Federalist wishes of those who aimed at an elective approach for the presidency of Berlaymont Palace or those who continue to hope, in vain, for the transformation of the EU into a full geopolitical actor. Ursula von der Leyen and Christine Lagarde are in fact the victory of the continental establishment, albeit cloaked in noble Europeanism but with a markedly nationalist heart. With potentially harmful implications for Italy. The former, current Defence Minister in the Merkel government, has always displayed a rigid public finance stance. During the Greek debt crisis, for example, she went so far as to propose to use the Greek gold reserves and the country’s strategic assets as a guarantee for financial aids to Athens. The latter, currently directing the IMF and loyal to former French president Nicholas Sarkozy, conceptualized the receivership of financially indolent governments with the Troika, only to admit the disastrous effects of austerity policies. After having avoided the infringement procedure thanks to the formidable support granted by the Head of State to the protagonists of the economic negotiations with Brussels, the risk for Italy is to find itself writing the next, crucial Budget law under the watchful eye of a new phalanx of fiscal austerity followers in autumn. The Italian government has come to the bargains for Europe’s leaderships at the height of the tug of war over its rising public debt, a condition that helps explain the poor scoring collected on the front of top EU jobs. Italy has won “only” David Sassoli for the presidency of the EU Parliament, a fact in compliance with the Franco-German principle of rewarding the faithful allies (like Spain and Belgium) or the political forces less hostile to European economic policies embodied by the controversial Fiscal Compact (just like Sassoli’s Democratic Party). Finally, it should be noted that a trait that unites the three most important names for the role of Italian commissioner (Giorgetti, although not available, Massolo and Siniscalco) is certainly the strong relationship with the US.