European governments and Brussels institutions have expressed moderate reactions to the dramatic Italian political crisis. That’s because they want to avoid fueling the premise of the extreme right-wing propaganda, which deliberately confuses the European Union and international finance. They reject the EU slide toward greater regulation, which finds its greatest enemy in international finance.
The anti-establishment forces are taking advantage from Sergio Mattarella’s decision to nominate the economist Carlo Cottarelli for prime minister. Marine Le Pen explicitly affirmed that “what’s happening is a coup d’etat,” “a robbery against the Italian people by illegitimate institutions,” led by “Brussels, finance and Germany.” For the leader of the National Front, “popular anger is growing all over Europe.”
Lega sits in the same European Parliament group as the National Front, the 5 Star Movement and the party of Nigel Farage. The Brexit campaign leader said on Twitter: “Italian voters will be furious that the establishment is blocking new ministers. Time for more elections and bigger votes. If Italy gets another Mario Monti, pro-EU appointee as Prime Minister expect real anger.” Steve Bannon, former advisor to Donald Trump, who is in Europe these days, talked about “sabotage” by the Mattarella.
The former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis expressed his skepticism: “The formation of a new technocratic government under the control of a former IMF member is a fantastic gift for Salvini.” In Germany, too, there are concerns about the ‘technical’ solution, but Angela Merkel’s spokesperson simply said that Berlin hopes “for a stable government.” Belgium behaved the same way.
Mrs. PESC, Federica Mogherini, stated her “full trust in Italian institutions, starting from President Mattarella, guarantor of the constitution.” In Brussels, the concern is that Italy’s absence will block the reforms under way: in particular, the agreement to amend the Dublin regulation on migrants, and the reform of the euro area, which is also causing frictions between Germany and France. Emmanuel Macron, who last Saturday had already phoned informally the appointed Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Monday underlined Mattarella’s “courage and responsibility,” insisting on “stability.”
In recent days, the Minister for the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, warned that the stability of the euro area would be “threatened” if Italy did not respect the commitments it had made. Le Maire’s irritability was dictated by a real concern: the fear of contagion, which could open up a new crisis on public debt in Europe, after the one of 2010-12, putting banks (including French banks) under pressure.
In Italy, the spread is increasing and in recent days, rates have also risen on Spanish and Portuguese debt: these are the three countries that had suffered the most from the Greek crisis. Then, the president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, had pulled out the ‘bazooka’ to defend the euro with “whatever it takes.” On Monday there was the start of the banking union (there was a vote on the ‘banking package’ last week in Brussels, Italy and Greece abstained), the ESM (European Stability Mechanism), which would not have the strength to cope with the Italian debt crisis.
Moreover, there is no funding for the eurozone: France would like it, but Germany is holding back. Looking ahead, there should be a European guarantee for bank deposits. Speculation is raising its head and rubbing its hands, because it is not a friend of the euro, as the extreme right maintains, which has limited its room to maneuver on the weak national currencies (not only the lira, the drachma or the peseta, but also the franc).