Italian MPs support EastMed. On Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Lower House approved a resolution – filed by Deputy President Paolo Formentini – committing the government “to continue the appropriate dialogue with the countries involved in the EastMed project” to “assess its development, with a view on diversifying energy supply sources, on the basis of the international geopolitical context and the conditions of technical and economic feasibility.”
- The text also requires the executive to “pay the greatest possible attention to the integration processes taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean, a crucial region for national energy supplies and global political-strategic balances.”
It’s bigger than the majority. MPs from all parties in the right-wing governing coalition and the so-called Third Pole, a centrist federation, voted in favour. The two main opposition parties – Democratic Party and Five Star Movement – abstained, while the Greens and Left Alliance voted against. The ball is now in the government’s court.
- “Parliament has finally expressed itself, after an in-depth discussion, in support of what we can define as a ‘pipeline of democracies,’ emphasising the centrality of the Eastern Mediterranean for Italy’s energy supply,” said Mr Formentini, a league MP, to our sister website. “It is crucial to diversify both energy sources and supply routes.”
EastMed’s strategic outlook. The resolution notes that the pipeline would allow Rome to “recalibrate energy supply choices” in light of Rome’s diversification away from Russian gas. Libya, another gas supplier, remains “very unstable and far from complete pacification,” while more moderate contacts between Turkey and Israel will hopefully “prelude to a sharper de-escalation” even between Ankara and Athens.
- The Eastmed project “is also proposed as a strategic corridor useful to promote the renewable potential of the Eastern Mediterranean region through the transport of green gases such as hydrogen,” reads the note.
- It’s also “a format that can join the network of relations built around the Abraham Accords and the reconciliation process between Arabs and Israelis, building a bridge between Italy and the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf.”
A step back. If built, the EastMed pipeline would span over 1,900 kilometres and transport natural gas, as well as hydrogen, from the eastern Mediterranean basin to Europe via Greece and Southern Italy – through the so-called Poseidon branch. Italy’s Edison and Greece’s Depa are 50-50 partners in the IGI-Poseidon consortium, overseeing infrastructure work in Cyprus, Greece and Israel. Companies that will operate the pipeline include Eni.
- Through an interview with our sister website, Fabrizio Mattana – Executive Vice President, Gas Assets at Edison – had asked the government to “express its explicit support, which would also guarantee a much greater weight at European level.”
The Israeli link (and Turkey’s role). In March, Mr Mattana took part in a business forum – overseen by Enterprise Minister Adolfo Urso – alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who told participants (and, later, Italian PM Giorgia Meloni) that Italy and Israel should bring about a “quantum leap” in bilateral relations and “expand” gas cooperation.
- Israel is among EastMed’s main stakeholders, alongside Cyprus and Greece, due to its access to the Levant basin natural gas reserves. Cyprus and Israel are in talks to link their offshore gas fields, which would be conducive to the wider EastMed project.
- However, as Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi recently told the Foreign Affairs Committee, the pipeline’s “unexpressed potential” can only come about with an agreement with Turkey, which is currently excluded from the project.