‘a Europe of Homelands’ – EURACTIV.com

Ahead of Italy’s snap election on 25 September, EURACTIV Italy takes a closer look at the programme of Giorgia Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy party, which, compared to some of its coalition allies like Forza Italia, presents a nationalist vision and opposes greater EU integration.

Read the original article in Italian here.

Brothers of Italy has presented a 40-page programme which features a section on the efficient use of national recovery plan resources and EU funds, as well as a final chapter “Italy as a protagonist in Europe and the world.”

This is in line with Brothers of Italy’s view that the EU is little more than a funding tool for Italy.

“Italy must once again play a leading role in Europe, in the Mediterranean and on the international stage” with a “foreign policy centred on the protection of national interest and homeland defence,” the programme writes.

The programme also calls for “a Europe of Homelands” echoing General De Gaulle’s view of the European project in the 1960s.

On the economy, the far-right party is calling for the reform of EU Stability Pact and economic governance “to ensure policies for growth and full employment”, but does not give additional details on the proposed reforms.

The party does the same with regards to “countering the unfair competition of European tax havens”, for which it fails to detail any proposed measures.

On defence matters, the programme reaffirms ‘full respect for our international alliances, including by adjusting defence allocations to the Atlantic Alliance parametres.”

The party’s aim is “to promote common EU defence policies and the establishment of a ‘European pillar’ of NATO, indispensable cornerstones for the security and independence of the continent,” without – again – mentioning ways to promote or fund such measures.

The party also calls for increased military funding,“no cuts to the workforce and overcoming precarious employment.” Like other right-wing parties, the party calls for increasing “training courses of academies and military schools.”

On Russia’s war in Ukraine, the party says it supports Ukraine as opposed to its two allies, Forza Italia and League, which do not even mention the situation in their manifestos. “We stand by our international allies in supporting Ukraine in the face of aggression by the Russian Federation,” Brothers of Italy writes in its programme.

The programme also deals with migration.

Among its proposals, the party calls for the “defence of national and European borders as stipulated by the Schengen Treaty and requested by the EU”. The aim is to stop the trafficking of human beings and create EU-managed hot-spots in non-European countries to assess asylum applications and ensure a fair relocation process, the party also wrote in its programme. An EU naval mission with similar aims was shut down by right-wing League leader and party ally Matteo Salvini when he was interior minister in the first Conte government.

On the national recovery and resilience plan, which is based on EU funds, the Brothers of Italy party recognise it as being “a unique opportunity for Italy that must be fully exploited”, though they believe it requires significant reform, and should be accompanied by the simplification of Italian regulations and bureaucracy.

For example, the party suggests “speeding up the implementation of the plan to catch up with the backlog” despite the Draghi government having so far fulfilled all its commitments in implementing the recovery plan.

The party also calls for “a targeted update” of the recovery plan due to the war in Ukraine having caused a price hike for commodities. On top of that, the party also wants the Italian resources of the ‘Complementary Fund’ and, with regard to resources from the EU, urges the Commission to make specific changes within the limits established by Article 21 of the Next Generation EU Regulation” – acknowledging that real negotiations are impossible. The aim is to redirect resources to energy, to make Italy the energy hub for inflows from Africa and eastern Mediterranean.

The party also says it will push for the strengthening of capacity to spend EU funds, and wants to impose a mechanism that would allow the state to take over if local authorities fail to use EU funds.

Besides not mentioning the Euro currency, the programme fails to mention the rule of law despite Meloni having previously attacked the Commission for its actions against Poland and Hungary, saying it interfered with national sovereignty and bullied right-wing governments.

Brothers of Italy also fails to present its position on the use of unanimity voting in EU decision making or demand an end to the supremacy of EU law – despite Meloni having recently been vocal on both these issues.

That suggests that the party is seeking to steer away from their previous anti-EU rhetoric, particularly as the programme does not feature most of the anti-EU proposals it recently agreed to with other European far-right forces.

However, Brothers of Italy still presents itself as a nationalist party, but with an pro-Western, rather than a pro-EU line.

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