The European Union is a geopolitical that comprises of 27 member states as of present. The EU (then called European Economic Community) was founded in 1957 by 6 member states with Belgium, France, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands and west germen. A founding member of the European Union, Italy has had a love affair relationship with the European body due to emergence of a ‘less idealistic vision of EU. This paper will discuss Italy’s position and relations at the EU.
Italy’s EU Membership
Italy is one of the founding members of European Union then called the European Economic Community (EEC) in March, 1957. The six members signed the Treaty of Rome that set up the EEC. EEC aim was to create a common market, a customs union and a free movement of capital and labor across member states.
Italy Contributions to the EU
Italy is a founding member of the EU and the country’s contributions cannot be underestimated since the EU’s inception. Italy has an insignificant position within the EU. The founding treaty in 1957 was signed in Rome, Italy. Since then Italy has been a strong supporter of EU integration. The country has been at the forefront of major steps towards the integration of EU like in search of the Euro, the Schengen Convention and the single market. Italy has been amongst the most Europhile country in Europe assisting in the union’s integration. Italy’s parliament helped foster a speedy ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon despite being a target of anti-EU discourse.
Difficulties Italy Has Faced as a Member of EU
Despite all its efforts, Italy has sometimes drawn mistrust from some of its EU member states. In the 1992 build up to the launch of the Euro, there were concerns over some member states that Italy could not meet the convergence criteria set in the Maastricht Treaty because f the country’s high debts at the time. Other member states argued that Italy and its neighbors Portugal and Spain should be left out of Eurozone mainly because their economies because of their weak economies. The problems became more persistent in the 2008 economic downtown. The fears among other member states using the Euro was that the ‘weak economies’ may result in collapse of the Euro project. Italy’s support of the US-led war in Iraq in 2003 also caused dismay among some member states. France and Germany did not support the war and this conflicting interest put strain in the member states relations.
The current government headed by Berlusconi does not show much interest for EU. It has been shown to criticize the EU especially if it is shown to stand in way of Italy’s national interests especially those touching on immigration and climate change. The Berlusconi government has strongly criticized the EU for the country’s immigration and climate woes. The immigration woes were brought to the fore after it was alleged that Italy has witnessed a massive influx of foreigners who were directly linked to increased number of crimes in the country. The EU was brought into the debate by Italian politicians who claimed that immigration is an EU problem and due to the fact that Romania citizens immigrants were accused of were involved in crimes at Italy, they generated a link between immigration and enlargement of EU in a political discourse. The anti-EU rhetoric especially of the Northern League has been one of the factors that accounts for the frosty relationship between Italy and its EU northern members. For example in April 2011, the Berlusconi government criticized the EU as far as the country’s membership to the union is concerned about the issue of immigration from North Africa and Berlusconi was heard saying, ““Either Europe is something concrete, or it would be best to part ways” (Comelli, p.9). This statement well summarizes the present frosty Italy relations with EU.