Italy Declares War On Merkel And The EU

Matteo Salvini promises Eurosceptic surge in 2019 EU elections
Matteo Salvini promises Eurosceptic surge in 2019 EU elections – Picture:www.express.co.uk

There was never any doubt that the leaders of the Euroskeptic coalition now governing Italy planned to challence the EU’s ruling bureaucracy over Italy’s proposed budget. Both Deputy Prime Ministers, Luigi Di Maio of Five Star Movement and Matteo Salvini of The League, were adamant about locking horns with European Union leadership over all issues of sovereignty between now and May’s European Parliamentary elections. This battle, coming as it does as Angeal Merkel’s fraile coalition faces another major setback, indicates that Germany’s domination of the EU, if not at an end, is looking very vulnerable.

The Italian budget proposes both tax cuts and universal income and has kicked into touch the EU budget limit of 2.0% of GDP, coming in at 2.4%. It has put their Finance Minister, Giovanni Tria, in a difficult position because Tria doesn’t want to negotiate this budget with Brussels, preferring a less confrontational, read more pro-EU, approach.

Salvini and Di Maio, however, have other plans. And since we began covering this story before the Italian election back in March, the imperative that Salvini force the issue of the Troika’s demands – (the EU, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) – back down their throats on debt restructuring/forgiveness.

Salvini’s emergence as the leader of this fight, was that Italy, because they are more than technically insolvent, have all the leverage in the negotiations. The size of their outstanding debt and the liabilities existent on the balance sheets of banks across Europe, most notably the nearly $1 trillion in TARGET 2 liabilities, are something Juncker, Draghi, Merkel and Christine LaGarde at the IMF simply cannot ignore. The reason Italy’s debt problem, and those of other EU members in southern Europe are so intractable is the single currency, which was created for political reasons without regard for the sheer economic stupidity of tying economies like those of Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal to the German economic powerhouse. This cut off the debtor nations from their traditional escape route, devaluation.

To successfully challenge EU financial diktat, Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, leader of Five Star have to make a serious effort to negotiate a good deal for Italy with Brussels, Berlin and the IMF. This is why the budget squeaked past the 2.0% limit and then they walked it back to 2.0% but with provisions they knew would anger the EU finance ministers.

The point of this is to provoke Brussels into a punitive reaction and then paint them as the bad guys to shift public sentiment back towards an Italeave position. Italy’s problems are not solvable with Germany holding the purse strings for all the EU countries.

With a big swing towards Euroscepticism and nationalism under way in Germany it looks as though the days of the Federal Europe project are truly numbered. With voting due tomorrow in Bravaria’s regional election, the CSU, sister party of Merkel’s CDU and traditional ruling party in the Bravarian provincial government and their main rivals the Social Democrats see their respective votes collapsing. Alternate for Germany (AfD)is now pushing up towards 20% nationally and looks likely to have a significant presence in the Bravarian assembly after the votes are counted, while centre left voters are turning to The Greens. If AfD out polls the Greens and denies the CSU a path to a coalition government without them then that could have spillover effects for Angela Merkel.

The latest polls have AfD averaging around 11% versus a strong push up to 18% by the Greens. Given recent shock results we must doubt the accuracy of these polls, but given the recent history of anti – establishment parties it would not be a surprise to see AfD outperform their polling numbers on Sunday.

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