Ministro ombra della narrazione.

La politica europea di Berlusconi 02.08.10

Perché l'Unione Europea viene vista come un noioso ostacolo dalla destra italiana.

Most explanations of this phenomenon begin with an observation. Italians, unlike the British, French and, increasingly, the Germans, do not see the EU as an arena for the resolution of conflicting national interests. Instead, "Europe", always referred to as if it were somewhere else, is a supplement to - and maybe, one day, a replacement for - their own government, which is axiomatically bad. The EU is like one of those benign but stern creators that reach out of the clouds in Renaissance masterpieces.

To successive Italian governments, "Europe" has been a convenient excuse for imposing unpopular measures. It is why Italians must sort their rubbish, give up their farmland and let in foreign goods. "Europe" is also the reason why certain things cannot be done - in the bureaucratic slang of Rome, it is the vincolo esterno (external constraint).

This utilitarian view of the EU is nevertheless tinged with a genuine idealism that inhibits Italy from playing rough. It rarely practises what is known in Brussels as "cross-table bargaining" (back-scratching deals in which a member state helps another with one issue in return for a hand with a second). And it has seldom used its veto. The most notable recent exception - Rome's refusal to allow a unanimous condemnation of Russia over its incursion into Georgia in 2008 - was prompted by one of Mr Berlusconi’s extra-European relationships.

These attitudes have translated into a long history of benign neglect. It is striking, for example, that almost uniquely within the EU, Italy has no stable alliances, even with other Mediterranean states. Until quite recently, its negotiating positions, if it had any, were concocted by the permanent representative in Brussels on the eve of council meetings. Government departments failed to co-ordinate European policies. There was no proper parliamentary scrutiny of the domestic impact of EU policies.

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