After having overcome successfully the dangerous parliamentary vote on the ESM bailout fund, Prime Minister Conte was able to fly to Brussels to participate in Angela Merkel’s triumph over the Recovery Fund.
The agreement on financial resources intended to relaunch the European economies affected by Covid-19 is in fact the great personal success of the German chancellor, the seal of her political leadership in Germany and the European Union before leaving the baton of command in 2021.
In recent months Merkel has managed to please everyone a little, providing French and Southern Europeans with some of the Eurobonds they were clamouring for, Dutch and Nordic the financial discounts and other conditions, most recently even the political concessions so much advocated by Poles and Hungarians. Results that overall certify the centrality of Berlin in the architecture of the continent and that signal the opening of a new phase in the relations between the Federal Republic and its European partners, with the Germans now ready to play a much more assertive role than the traditionally minimalist one assumed until now after their reunification.
Having disposed of the thrill for the celebrations of an agreement which among other things confirms the monstrous sum of 209 billion euros destined for Italy, Prime Minister Conte faces the difficult task of finding a synthesis on the governance of Italy’s Recovery plan, or the national program with the spending priorities of EU funds. The question marks concern more specifically the management of resources, the control room of projects and their checks, names and roles of the six top managers who should oversee the various programs.
On this point a tough political battle is raging within the ruling majority, with fault lines by now well known. On the one hand there is precisely the head of the government, who has designed a pyramid structure with the declared objective of speeding up the socio-economic revival of the country and avoiding foreseeable delays in the face of the watchful eye of European institutions and partners. On the other hand there is the discontent of the parties, which are not at all convinced of having to endorse without firing a shot what they perceive to be Palazzo Chigi’s attempt to overthrow Parliament and ministers by claiming full management of the over two hundred Europeans billion destined for Italy.
The leader of the party-revolt responds to the identikit of Matteo Renzi, the demiurge of the Count II administration and above all the warden of a widespread dissatisfaction against the premier that unites surprisingly the otherwise litigious ruling coalition partners. After all, it is not the first time that the leader of small centrist Italia Viva party harshly criticizes the tenant of Palazzo Chigi, already attacked in the past for his inaction or for the tendency to focus crucial decisions only on himself.
Last May the political crisis erupted over the no-confidence vote against Justice Minister Alfonso Bonafede (M5S) was surpassed by the spectre of snap elections that led litigants to take milder advices. This time the same risk does not seem to exist, since the menace of early voting no longer convinces and in Parliament – at least in the short term – there are no alternatives to the current ruling majority.
Hence the vehemence of the attack carried out in the Senate this week by Renzi against Conte and his constant references to the fact that the executive would be at risk if the prime minister were to insist on the control room for the management of European funds. The impression is that at risk is not the government established thanks to the parliamentary pact between M5S-PD-IV-LEU, but rather the seat of the prime minister in the event of a head-on clash with his coalition shareholders in Parliament.
For this reason, it is perfectly plausible to believe that an agreement will be reached on the governance of the Recovery plan as well, like what happened just a couple of days ago for the majority resolution on the ESM bailout fund. For his part, premier Conte has already made it known that he is available to negotiate, while reiterating that some kind of resources coordination is necessary.
While waiting to hear about the next chapter of the chess game focused on the management of the highly coveted European resources – a fundamental objective for all those who want to be re-elected in 2023 – it is certain that the level of ruling coalition infightings shows no signs of decreasing. This is why it must be monitored with constant attention.