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Italy's Love Affair with the EU: Between Continuity and Change


Once a renowned Euro-enthusiastic country, Italy has experienced a decrease in public support for European integration. Many are the reasons, including the emergence of a less idealistic vision of the EU, a general disaffection vis-à-vis politics, particularly at the domestic level, and the increasingly more vocal Euroscepticism of some political forces within the centre-right ruling coalition. The current Berlusconi government does not show the same degree of interest for European integration as previous centrist and centre-left governments. This is not to say that Italy’s love affair with Europe has come to a bitter end. Italians continue to trust European institutions significantly more than national ones and would like the EU to acquire more competences. In addition, the vocal anti-EU rhetoric of some political forces within the governing coalition, and especially the Northern League, is often not matched by deeds, largely because EU policy-making is generally used as a source of leverage to obtain concessions in other policy domains. Tellingly, the Treaty of Lisbon was speedily ratified by the Italian parliament by unanimous vote - something unthinkable in most EU countries.