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An Italian’s Opinion On Whether Italy Will Follow The UK & Leave The EU

The rise of Italexit.

I am a young Italian student, conservative and eurosceptic, for all the reasons you can imagine and find below. I’ve been interested in political affairs since I was a child; now I see that Italian euroscepticism is rising, and there are more and more people talking about a possible Italexit. I will try to provide some information about what is going on here and what may happen in the future, even though I know that understanding foreign political affairs, especially Italian ones, is not that easy.

A great disappointment: the euro

“Europe always saves us”, affirm leftist Italian Europe-lovers. The reality is different, as the introduction of the single currency has not been very positive for the Italian economy. Indeed, it has lowered purchasing power, which puts the middle classes and smaller businesses in trouble. Since then, European policies have brought few advantages to Italy, even though the country is one of the top contributors and a founder of this Union.

Other trouble from Brussels

Moreover, Rome has had a lot of trouble with irregular immigration from Africa, with European aid amounting to little more than kind words about “humanity” and good promises. Furthermore, European trading arrangements with several countries guilty of unfair competition (e.g. Tunisian olive oil) have put a lot of products made in Italy in serious trouble, along with their producers. Last but not least, the Covid-19 pandemic has nearly destroyed the Italian economy, with European aid arriving late and unsatisfying in many respects.

Are there eurosceptic parties?

These are, in addition to the wave of enthusiasm provided by Brexit, which is one of the reasons why many Italians – especially the right-wing voters – are nearly done with the EU. But here come the difficulties. The Italian government are among the EU-lovers: the Democrats have always been in love with Brussels and the Five Stars, originally eurosceptic, changed their mind once they had a taste of power. The parties of the right, on the other hand, are not keen on making the great step. They are continuing their campaign for deep reform of European institutions from the inside, instead of proposing an exit.

Who actually backs Italexit?

So, what can be done by those who want to leave the European Union? The most popular political leaders who back the great leap out are now Gianluigi Paragone and Vittorio Sgarbi. The former is a close friend of Nigel Farage. Mr Paragone was once a member of Five Stars, and has just founded a new movement: Italexit. Its name is its goal. Of course, voters will need some time to get to know it well. The latter is a celebrity in Italy (he is also a famous art critic) and he is supporting a petition for a referendum like the British one in 2016. Remember: the Italian people never voted to join the EU or to adopt the euro. A referendum would be a huge win.

Looking to the future

The eurosceptic battle, however, has only just begun. Anything could happen, but what we must not ignore is that Italy, should it leave, would risk an economic disaster. The need to change the currency back would bring great risk of unemployment and inflation. Trade agreements with non-EU countries would be essential – why not one with the UK? On the other hand, gaining complete sovereignty in both economic and social policy would probably strengthen Italy in all areas. Once independent from the rules set in Brussels, Berlin and Paris, Italy would be a greater partner for the UK than it is today. We will just have to wait and see what happens.