On the same day as the confidence vote for Italy’s new Mario Draghi-led government, New Europe was in Rome to speak with current MEP and former President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, from Forza Italia about his party’s view of the new administration, which is the first in Italy’s history to be led by for former head of the European Central Bank.
Tajanai spoke broadly about the pandemic, the recovery plan, the new attitude that Lega has adopted towards the EU, and what the foreign policy stance will be of Draghi government.
New Europe (NE): What’s your feeling about a government with so different political forces?
Antonio Tajani (AT): This is a government of national unity, build up to manage the pandemic. This is not a new political majority. we are in an emergency period, like after World War II, where the Christian Democrats and Communists didn’t create a political alliance. All they did was decide to fight together against unemployment and rebuild the country. This is what we have to do now. When the pandemic ends, everybody will be back to their previous political corners. We will stay part of the center-right coalition as a liberal, Catholic, and reformist party that is also pro-EU and pro-EU-US relations in its foreign policy. The non-participation of the Brothers of Italy in the Draghi government is a choice that we respect.
NE: Do you think Lega could be part of the EPP in the future and are you trying to support this process?
AT: There is a new path in the more pro-EU attitude, one that is in favor of the social economy. This is a positive fact because till now, Lega didn’t ask to enter the EPP, as was reiterated by Matteo Salvini a few days ago. Silvio Berlusconi said, if needed, we are available to speak with and support a path towards the EPP for Lega. It is only for Lega who has to decide on this path. This is already a net positive that Lega is part of the Draghi government. As for a pro-EU stance, this doesn’t that you bow your head to the Brussels bureaucracy. It is important to build up a project where Italy is one of the main players in Brussels.
NE: Regarding the political program, from what we heard Draghi, it seems to be the type with a low profile in its approach to fiscal reform. What’s your opinion?
AT: This government was created with the priority to defeat the Coronavirus and to implement a recovery plan. In this regard, we have to do some reforms, including a fiscal plan. We must also cut Italy’s bureaucracy and finally implement efficient justice reform. This process will take time, but it is already important for us to stop the possibility of creating new taxes. If we form the next government, we will push to have a flat tax. Under this difficult scenario, we will have to sacrifice some parts of our program. The priority now is to save lives because, every day, hundreds of Italians are dying from COVID. We would be bad politicians, and bad Italians, if this wasn’t a priority for us. We already have millions of Italians suffering because of the economic crisis. We risk a new unemployment wave with thousands of small and medium-sized businesses who are under threat of bankruptcy. We have our solutions. Remember, that we are the only party that presented a vaccination plan and a plan to access the recovery fund.
NE: On the foreign policy front, do you see any shift in Italy’s relations with third countries?
AT: This government is changing Italy’s approach to foreign policy. The previous Conte government was too oriented towards China and far-less focused on our relations with the US. The United States must be our main partner. We share the view of this government that the two top foreign policy priorities are our relations with Europe and the US. Yesterday, Berlusconi mentioned in an interview a ‘United States of Europe’ – this is the same direction that we are following. Of course, we are open to dialogue with the other partners like Russia, but with China, we noticed that they tried to occupy far too much space in our country. There were big concerns about the steel, ceramic and bicycle industries and unfair competition from Chinese companies. We also asked about a carbon tax for goods imported into the EU. We are also not in favor of an unconditional partnership with China and its Belt and Road initiative. We shouldn’t sell our ports (to the Chinese). Last but not least, we should not be part of the current 5G rollout, because our data has to stay in safe hands.