Europe is now facing its first big test following Brexit.
The COVID-19 pandemic is shaking the EU structure and putting yet another strain on the resilience of the very idea of a united Europe. The pandemic has highlighted underlying issues that have been emerging during Brexit; the regional crises that affected the Mediterranean countries. Now, as Italy faces a massive challenge, it has not found the support that was expected from the European Union, but rather a wall of mistrust and poor collaboration.
As a result, it is inevitable that questions will be asked about whether Italy should continue to be part of the European project that now appears increasingly outdated. Popular sentiment is growing in Italy, which should give the government pause to consider, around detachment from a political entity in which they do not recognize themselves, and which, indeed, feels hostile in this time of crisis.
These sentiments are not exclusive to Italy but are shared with countries like Spain, which in the past have been the undisputed protagonist of the entire European project and now feel almost alien. The world has changed since the European Union was conceived and created. We are in an increasingly post-ideological era that is characterised by the absence of dominant and opposing ideologies. Many of the political dogmas that were born and then developed during the post-war period are victims of an unprecedented identity crisis that highlights the disconnect between the initial ideology and the inability to update and produce socio-economic conditions in step with the times.
However, the disconnect between aspirations and reality is a generalised phenomenon that affects not only institutions, but also individuals. In particular, the younger generation is faced with an unprecedented clash with reality, in which it plays the role of the victim of executioners, unable to face the sacrifices and challenges that an uncertain tomorrow could hold. A prime example of this is the lack of initial adhesion to the restriction measures imposed in Italy in the battle against the spread of the coronavirus infection, in which many young people have not accepted the restrictions on their freedom of movement. Many are feeling like they are victims of the system on the one hand, and as instrument of indiscriminate contagion on the other. We can only imagine the impact that this gap can have from a political and social perspective. A social disaster.
Italy is a lost country. In recent years, it has lost much of its image as the backbone of creativity, and today demonstrates all its intrinsic weaknesses. It is a nation that has succeeded in overcoming the structural challenges imposed by the end of World War II, maintaining its openness policy towards all countries without any closures whatsoever. However, it was a utopia that shattered against changes in systems and political lines. A sequence of frivolous, populist and inadequate governments, headed by low-level personalities, have relegated Italy to a subordinate role with marginal international relevance.
Along with the lack of personality, another basic factor has been missing: political dogmatism. A lack of rules of conduct that intensified physically with the latest national executive, which above all in its international political representation bodies has shown all its limitations. We can cite a few examples: on the issue of Libya, in which Italy has become the protagonist of an appearance supplanted by the shrewdest French, Russian and Turkish diplomacy, which have invested in the countries of North Africa in view of economic advantages that considerably affect Italian interests.
Another game is played in Europe, and in particular with the relations it has with Donald Trump’s America. More specifically, the reports that a reviving phenomenon, such as the extreme right in Europe, relate to the two hegemonic powers, Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the US. In the various European countries where pseudo-ideology has risen, they have been supported from time to time either by Russia or America.
So where does Italy stand in the context of the EU and internationally. The perception that perhaps it is better off on its own, to recapture the Italian spirit and personality is becoming increasingly popular with the growing recognition that the EU experiment is not in Italy’s best interests, and the current situation is demonstrating to Italians that perhaps it is even detrimental.