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Italy began a riot against the EU

13 2018 June
Tags:Italy, Refugees, Migration, EU, Europe, Politics, West, Analytics

Just ten days after taking the oath, the new government of Italy gave grounds to think that the associated rainbow (or gloomy - depending on the position taken) expectations have good reasons to come true.

The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini ordered the closure of Italian ports for the vessel Aquarius, which was sent to the shores of Sicily with 629 migrants rescued by him in the Mediterranean.

The ship under the flag of Gibraltar, owned by the non-governmental organization SOS Mediterranee, in recent days participated in six rescue operations, taking on board including "123 minors, 11 children and seven pregnant women."

The Italians tried to shove the mission of accepting migrants to Malta "as a safer port," but she also categorically refused the proposed honor.

After the daily clarification of the relationship between the Italians and the Maltese, the Spanish government declared its willingness to accept the vessel with migrants: "Our duty is to help in an effort to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and the readiness to offer a" safe port "to these people by fulfilling obligations in the field of international law." One can only guess who specifically and with what arguments persuaded the Spaniards to take over this mission, but with a high probability Madrid acted in a voluntary-compulsory manner, and behind its initiative looms the shadow of Brussels.

However, the main results of the current "riot on the ship", arranged by Italy, have yet to be seen and comprehended, and they will extend far beyond the EU's migration policy.

At the same time, it is necessary to pay tribute to the government of Giuseppe Conte, who chose an extremely successful topic for the first step with the aim of probing relations with the EU and transforming them.

Most of the member states of the European Union are in a dual position.

On the one hand, eurosceptic sentiments across Europe are growing year by year, which is reflected in the results of plebiscites in an increasing number of countries. Claims against Brussels (and the EU's dominant states, primarily Germany) are extensive and cover a very wide range of issues in which countries are compelled to forgo national interests in favor of the directives imposed on them: from the same migration policy to the issue of anti-Russian sanctions, not to mention already about numerous quotas, distribution of subsidies and so on.

On the other hand, European countries are already so deeply, diversely and strongly involved in the common system that attempts to break out or even simply not to obey the general rules for most are fraught with very unpleasant consequences. Right now, Brussels teaches an obvious lesson to everyone by the example of negotiations for withdrawal from the UK, extremely difficult and even humiliating for London. Before that, there was Greece, which was simply crushed, and the results of the national referendum were sent to the basket by the Greek same (protest) leadership just two days after the vote.

"A holiday of disobedience" can be afforded only by very few countries with certain characteristics that allow them to maintain a high degree of sovereignty and the opportunity not to look back at Brussels. This is, for example, Hungary under the leadership of Victor Orban. But the Polish "freeman" seems to be coming to an end: Brussels has firmly set out to cut back Warsaw's funding.

Italy until recently was a typical example of loyalty - a member of the EU of the very first wave, a very large economy (albeit with serious systemic problems), repeated attempts to raise its voice and bring alternative positions to Brussels on a variety of issues. However, when it came to making decisions, Rome over and over again obediently joined the dominant mainstream, even if it openly contradicted the national interests of the country.

The unfolding story with the vessel Aquarius is interesting because it demonstrated: the new government is not just a company of populist Eurosceptics, but sophisticated politicians.

If Rome tried to "stir up a riot" on the issue of anti-Russian sanctions, there is no doubt that he would be suppressed in the bud. The official consolidated policy of Europe on this issue is too important for key players (even if they are already actively engaged in renewing cooperation with Russia) so that they allow such a blatant step.

If the Italian authorities tried to completely officially abandon the EU policy towards migrants (as, for example, Hungary did the same), this initiative would also certainly have ended in a shameful failure. The EU would not have suffered such a renegade in its ranks. But Rome limited itself, at least for the time being, to a single incident: the refusal to accept a particular ship.
Whether the Italian authorities have exerted pressure from other European capitals to change their decision, one can only guess. Be that as it may, the result remained unchanged.

Europe received a really new precedent of openly defending national interests by a country that used to obediently followed the European policy in spite of regularly expressed discontent. And this is a reason not only to rejoice for ordinary Italians who received the first demonstration of the work of their chosen power, but also a reason to think, for example, for the Spaniards, who in this whole situation were in fact the last in line, because their government could not do what it turned out Italian.

Is it possible to make far-reaching conclusions from the situation with Aquarius? And no and yes.

No, because this is yet one case - and whether it will be the first or will be the only one, only the future will show.

And yes, because the demarche of the Italian authorities has become another example, and not the most visible and large, full-scale restructuring of the entire political system of the world. Against the backdrop of the failure of the G7 summit and Trump's meeting with Kim Jong Ne, a small European scandal around the vessel with migrants is barely noticeable. But nevertheless, it lies exactly in the same logic of global and regional transformation, which means that the tendencies of the historical process play into the hands of the new Italian government and its plans.

Irina Alksnis
RIA News
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