The current relationship between Italy and the European Union is far from ideal. Even more worrisome is the widening distance between the national élites and the public opinion. Yet, there has been no shortage, at every level, of positive economic policy decisions that have contributed to the system’s cohesion.
In Italy, Europe is portrayed as the severe budget inspector impeding the economy’s recovery, the unjust punisher of banks, and the miserly dispenser of aid needed for managing the unstoppable flow of migrants—a problem that is now almost exclusively impacting Italy, the only European country through which migrants may still enter the EU, but from where they can no longer leave. It is now commonplace among leading industrialists and financiers to express doubts over whether Italy is capable of staying in the euro. Some have gone so far as to express support for leaving the common currency, without fully considering the consequences (on this matter, I would suggest consulting Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who was forced to do a dramatic about-face when the end of liquidity support from the European Central Bank forced Greek banks to close). The departing Italian government’s excessively and uselessly aggressive public rhetoric against Europe, employed in the vain hope of steeling consensus from populists Beppe Grillo and Matteo Salvini, have not helped matters. Not only did it garner no votes, it helped feed the hostile public opinion against Europe.