Thursday

21st Nov 2019

Italy's PM Conte: no more anti-EU populism

  • Giuseppe Conte (c) with EU leaders at a previous summit in Brussels (Photo: Consilium)

Italy's anti-EU populism has ended, its prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, said on Monday (9 September), as far-right MPs tried to shout him down.

"We want to put behind us the din of useless declarations and belligerent, bombastic statements," Conte told the Italian lower house, referring to the rhetoric of Matteo Salvini, the former interior minister and the head of the far-right League party.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

"The language of this government will be mild-mannered," Conte added.

"I remain firmly convinced ... that it is within the confines of the European Union and not outside, that we must work for the good of Italians," he also said, in a 90-minute speech which mentioned the words "Europe" and "European" 32 times.

He did not say he would undo Salvini's laws on banning migrant rescue boats from bringing people to Italy.

He also repeated old calls for better EU burden-sharing, saying that "solidarity has been announced, but this announcement hasn't turned to facts yet".

And he repeated calls for the EU to relax its fiscal rules so that Italy could spend more now welfare despite its debt pile.

The EU's stability and growth pact must be "improved", he added.

But the 55-year old former law professor signalled a break with Salvini's ideas as well as his style on trade and on the environment.

"Protectionism is never the appropriate answer" and the new government was drafting a "courageous and innovative ... 'Green New Deal'," Conte said.

He also suggested holding a special summit on EU reform in a proposal which might come up when he visits Brussels on Wednesday.

MPs backed Conte's new coalition in a confidence vote by 343 to 263 out of 630 seats in the lower house after he spoke.

The senate, where the government has a smaller majority of just a few seats, is due to vote on Tuesday.

"It is going to be difficult and complicated. A sense of responsibility has prevailed. Now we must roll up our sleeves and try to do the best for the country," the new culture minister, Dario Francheschini, also said on Monday, according to the Reuters news agency.

The new coalition was formed by the anti-establishment 5 Star Movement (5MS) party and the centre-left Democratic Party after Salvini tried to force snap elections in his bid to lead Italy.

But Salvini's MPs jeered Conte's speech on Monday in a sign of ongoing turbulence in Italian politics.

They called him a "buffoon" and cried out for "Elections! Elections!" in scenes they also replicated at a public rally outside the Italian parliament in Rome.

"Inside, there's the regime that knows it's about to fall and is acting like Marie Antoinette," Salvini told the crowd, referring to the old regime before the French revolution in 1789.

"We will be a serious opposition, in parliament but also among the people, from north to south, one town after another," the League chief said.

Italy: Conte won, Salvini lost

Italy's far-right deputy leader, Matteo Salvini, wanted it all. He gambled on elections, but instead he got a new government composed of his arch-enemies and himself out in the cold.

Salvini calls for new elections in Italy

League leader and deputy prime minister says he is candidate to be prime minister and that his party is ready to call elections. The latest opinion polls puts the League on 36 percent.

Opinion

Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril

Matteo Salvini's recent gambit may have failed, but, in his own words: "From today you will find me even more pissed off and determined. I will go from town to town and we will take this country back."

Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president

The outgoing president of the EU council, Donald Tusk, is set to be elected as the president of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP). Tusk will have to deal with the final decision over Hungary's ruling Fidesz.

Wilmès becomes first female PM of Belgium

On Sunday, Sophie Wilmès was appointed as the new prime minister of Belgium - becoming the first female head of government in the country's history. She replaces Charles Michel who becomes president of the European Council.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  2. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  3. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears
  4. Finland: EU 'not brain dead' on enlargement
  5. The labour market is not ready for the future
  6. Parliament should have 'initiation' role
  7. AI skewed to young, male, and western EU, report warns
  8. US and EU go separate ways on Israeli settlers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us