FRANCE AND ITALY AT LOGGERHEADS OVER DI MAIO’S VISIT CONTROVERSY

Sixty one years after its onset, United Europe is now risking disaggregation. It was with the Treaty of Rome in 1957, twelve years after the end of WWII,  that six nations, namely West Germany, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg laid the foundations of what is known as the EU.
Integration, free movement of goods people and services, and political harmony between the participating nations were in the spirit of a United Europe with the ultimate aim of defusing any spark of major political confrontation which might lead to war.
Since 1957 more and more countries have joined this European club. For some, amongst the smallest, the EU has meant prosperity and progress, for some others reaffirmation of their national prestige, while for a few members reluctance to sacrify  part or all of their sovereignty, a feeling which is ever more showing its ugly head.
With regard to the latter, cracks have already begun to show, Britain being the typical example.  The current Brexit impasse epitomizes the stance of a country that, since joining the Union in 1973, has enjoyed all the benefits deriving from being a member of the large European family, but at the same time never integrating with it to a reasonable extend. Those who believed Britain had lost its sovereignty on foot of the slogan “Britain to the British” had the upper hand when it came to vote in the Brexit referendum. Not unlike the slogan that led to the election of Trump in the USA.
Nationalism is an animal which is hard to kill, and when it is brought about and fomented by the insurgence of populism, now rampant in Europe and in the world,  one can understand the current impasse between France and Italy, two of the founder countries of the Union, that are now loggerheads, with Macron recalling the French  ambassador to Italy over a controversy boldly created by Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi di Maio’s open support for the French Yellow Vests.
Where is all this leading to in terms of the survival of  the Union?  What is happening now in Europe tells us that the EU is not perfect. Some aspects of this highly bureaucratic  Organization need urgent reform.  To mention just a couple, one is the question of migration which should be regulated in terms of equitability amongst the member states, the other is the far too rigid austerity that it imposes on member states at times of major economic crisis.
But apart from these basic considerations, cracks are beginning to show even amongst the founder countries of the Union for other reasons. And if any of these should crash out of the club it will bring down the whole Union.



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