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Italy’s BRI debate is coming to Parliament

PM Meloni reiterated that it’s possible to have “excellent relations with China without being part of a strategic plan” such as the Belt and Road Initiative. And Senator Craxi said she’d table a resolution to bring the matter to MPs

Bringing the BRI choice to Parliament. On Thursday, Senator Stefania Craxi, member of the governing coalition party Forza Italia and chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, expressed her willingness to “support the full involvement of Parliament” of the Belt and Road Initiative decision by tabling a resolution in her own Committee.

  • Posting to Facebook, she said she appreciated Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s “institutional” approach, “who recalls the need to involve Parliament […] on a sensitive issue such as the Memorandum of Understanding with China, whose approval at the time impacted on the dynamics of our country’s strategic alliances”.

Time for a reality check. The MoU, she added, “clearly doesn’t only have commercial implications” – as some had depicted it when it was signed in 2019, – and “proof of this is the fact that despite being the only Western European country to have signed it, Italy’s trade with China is less than that of other EU nations.”

  • In fact, signing it was “a mistake, fraught with negative consequences,” wrote the senator.

Manifesting the people’s will – institutionally. On Wednesday, when she spoke before the Senate, PM Meloni reiterated that one could have “excellent relations with China without being part of a strategic plan” such as the BRI. She also noted the decision hasn’t been made yet: “Evaluations are underway, there is time to modify, the issue should be handled with delicacy, care and respect and also involving Parliament: it is best not to press on the accelerator on such delicate issues, but rather to find the most valid solutions possible in defence of our interest.”

  • The Meloni government looks like it’s leaning towards exiting the MoU, which will auto-renew unless one of the parties takes action before year’s end. And the PM looks set to bring the matter to Parliament, where she commands a strong majority.
  • With a significant parliamentary mandate, PM Meloni would make ditching the MoU a direct consequence of the will of the Italian people – as they are represented by their MPs –, thereby legitimising it further.
  • On the other hand, however, those who hope that the decision may make little noise point out the fact that Parliament was not called to express itself in the 2019 decision to join the BRI.

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