Finding a common line on the great challenges that await Europe between now and the end of the year, without going into open confrontation. This seems to be the main objective of the European Council taking place today and tomorrow in Brussels, defined by a senior EU official as a “geo-economic” summit, varied in terms of topics but with some thorny fronts: the reform of the Stability Pact and the environmental chapter which includes, among other things, the nuclear dossier. And it is on these two aspects that the balance could break. Migrants will only be discussed during dinner, with Ursula von der Leyen’s information point: the chapter on the agenda is marginal, but someone will take the floor. And the Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, arriving at the summit, said: “I expect steps forward on migrants. I can say that I am satisfied with the draft conclusions, which asks the Commission to precede expeditiously. I would say that we can confirm the fact that the The issue of emigration is considered central today, something unthinkable until a few months ago, and which is being followed step by step by the Council. This is excellent news”. She then added: “I am in contact with Emmanuel Macron for a possible meeting”.
Meloni: “Learn from your mistakes on the EU Stability Pact”
On the Stability Pact, Meloni said, “there are always quite different visions but I think the EU must learn from its mistakes, from the past. Today everyone is being asked for important investments for the ecological, digital transition, for strategic procurement. It cannot be thought that the investments necessary to make our system competitive are not taken into account in governance”. “It would be tragic for us – he added – to go back to the previous parameters, we need governance that is more attentive to growth. I believe that the challenge must be governance that is more attentive to growth and not just to stability. There are steps forward, but on this you have to work hard.”
Meloni: “Yes to objectives but the EU does not decide on green technologies”
On Fit for 55 the position that “we will reiterate is that without prejudice to the objectives of the transition that we share, we do not believe that the EU should deal with establishing which technologies are needed to achieve the objectives”, said Giorgia Meloni. “Ours seems to me a thesis of absolute common sense and therefore we are confident that it will pass, also with regard to biofuels. There are technologies in which Italy, and therefore also Europe, are potentially at the forefront and, compared to a hypothesis of this type, deciding to be linked to technologies that in fact are held as avant-garde by nations outside the Union is, in my opinion, a choice that does not favor the competitiveness of our system”.
Meloni: “League’s positions on Ukraine don’t worry me”
“Frankly, they don’t worry me. Beyond the positions expressed to work on a position we are all working towards, i.e. the end of the conflict, I said what I think: in the current context, there is no more effective measure than guaranteeing a balance among the forces on the field”, added Meloni in response to a question about the position of the League on Ukraine. “I’m not worried because I look at the facts as I have done other times and in fact the Italian line is very clear”.
The European Sovereignty Fund
Both on economic governance and on green technologies, Giorgia Meloni will not listen. There is a first issue that Italy has already placed on European tables: Net Zero, whose goals can be shared, needs to be fed by common resources. And Rome is not alone on this point. Meloni spoke about it in a telephone conversation with the Polish premier – and his ally – Mateusz Morawiecki but there are at least twenty EU capitals that share the Italian line. And in the draft conclusions that the EU leaders will adopt at the end of the summit, a European sovereignty fund appears, on which negotiations are continuing: “The European Council recalls that it took note” last February “of the EU Commission’s intention to propose a sovereignty fund by summer 2023 to support investments in strategic sectors” of the continental economy.
Stability Pact and green transition
And it is here that the issue intersects with the reform of the Stability Pact. For Italy, the new Pact should not be seen as a separate chapter with respect to the strategy for a competitive and green EU. Translated: asking for investments in the dossier requires, especially for those with little fiscal space, flexibility in the path of debt repayment or an ad hoc golden rule for the resources spent in the transition and perhaps also for defense, another sector on which Brussels wants to push on the accelerator. In the conclusions of the summit, barring twists and turns, a certain flexibility will once again be guaranteed in the use of existing funds, i.e. RePowerEu, Cohesion funds and above all Recovery.
The stop to polluting cars from 2035
But in Rome it is not enough. And the emergence of tension with the “frugal”, who instead ask for rigid benchmarks for the repayment of the debt, is just around the corner. Just as risky could be the debate on renewable technologies and sources. Nuclear power, or rather its inclusion, will certainly be on the table and the impression is that, albeit in its most avant-garde and “clean” form, it could be included in the conclusions of the summit. Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz will talk about it in an ad hoc bilateral meeting. It is possible that, on that occasion, the dossier of the stop to polluting cars from 2035 will also be addressed. The EU Council will do everything to ensure that the issue is not discussed at the summit, relegating the issue to a negotiation between the Commission and Berlin. The German wall, moreover, seems less impassable also because the EU has delivered to Scholz an ad hoc proposal on the inclusion of e-fuels. However, the biofuels dear to the Italian government remain outside the compromise. And, things being like this, Rome’s position will remain against it.
Weber: “Berlin is failing, a clear message is needed”
“The German government is failing, they have been negotiating the agreement for two years and in the final stage, in the end, they said: no, we don’t support it. So we need a clear message from Germany, they have to find common ground” , said the president of the EPP, Manfred Weber, arriving at the meeting of the party in Brussels ahead of the European Council. “My party has always been in favor of technological neutrality, so we want to be ambitious, we want to have climate-neutral cars in the future, there is no doubt about that, but technology has to be engineer-based, it has to be consumer-based, they it is not the state, not the politicians who decide on the technology”.