Paradoxically, in the blackest day for the government yellow-green, Giuseppe Conte tries to recover a political role. "I am the president of the council," he told a press conference in Brussels announcing the decision to convene a ministerial council on Saturday morning. Whatever may be said by Matteo Salvini. Urgent to resolve the issue of tax decree that caused the first real war in the Lega-M5s government on the very first crucial day of the clash between Rome and Brussels on public accounts. Luigi Di Maio and Salvini broke while Conte was face to face with the other European leaders angry at the Italian economic maneuver. And here in the palaces of the Union came from Italy the image of a sovereign government but evidently weak: perfect for the maneuver of European encirclement that could lead to a rejection of the draft budget document next week.
The encirclement was incredibly snapped today. With a perfect regia. Only yesterday here in Brussels nobody would have bet that the letter from the European Commission with the request for clarification to Italy on the 2.4 percent deficit forecast would have arrived today. But yes: she arrived in Rome with Pierre Moscovici, who took her personally to the Minister of the Treasury Giovanni Tria and then in the evening to Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale. It was published on the website of the Commission: the first 'alt' of Palazzo Berlaymont towards Italy became official, while in Brussels all the leaders for the European Council were gathered, for the Eurosummit and we also put together the Europe-Asia Summit that starts tonight.
And Conte found himself alone.
"The letter will not only receive Italy but also other countries". The premier tries to diminish the scope of the European missive. "It is customary to receive it, I imagine it will express serious concern with regard to the deviation as regards the deficiti-pil relationship". While speaking at the press conference, the EU letter is published and released by the press agencies. Naturally he has already read it. "We answer that our opinion is not a big deviation: we would have reached 2 percent of the deficit-pil ratio just to defuse the safeguard clauses that would have increased the VAT.Then basically we only took the 0.4 for a hundred more … We are fully aware of the tensions on the markets, but Italy is in good health … ".
In fact, other countries will also receive the same request for explanations from Brussels. We talk about France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium. But, coincidentally, for them there is no letter from Palazzo Berlaymont today on the day of the EU summit. And Moscovici chooses today's day to go to Rome and not to Paris or Madrid or Lisbon to deliver the letter. Perfect encirclement. And none of the other states are in solidarity with Italy. Not even those who like Rome find themselves in the crosshairs of the Commission. Indeed the Belgians are also annoyed to be included in what their media have already renamed with contempt 'Club Med'.
Even Emmanuel Macron, who leads a country with 10 years of European deficit due to excessive deficit, allows himself not to discount Italy. "We do not give lessons, but we need to respect the rules", says the French president after the bilateral agreement with Conte. Angela Merkel washes her hands: "The Commission is the partner with which Rome must speak". After all, the Chancellor does not need to expose herself more against Italy: everyone else does it.
One of the most angry is the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who this morning communicates to Conte all his criticisms in a special bilateral. He has the mandate of his parliament to beat Italy. It is no coincidence that many Dutch journalists are waiting for the Italian premier for the final conference. "With Conte I was very clear about the maneuver and I told him that it is not good for Italy, nor for Europe and the eurozone, I am very worried by the ambitious proposals presented by Italy, they go against the Stability Pact , the deficit will increase, instead of reducing it … ".
The pressure on the Commission to punish Italy is very high, even if the Italian maneuver is not on the agenda of today's summits. Unbelievable. "We did not discuss the Italian budget, today it was not the place, and the weather", explains the President of the EU Commission Jean Claude Juncker. But, he adds, "countries have been advised not to add flexibility to flexibility.In Italy, Italy has spent 30 billion euros over the past three years.We have been very generous, kind and positive with Italy, because Italy is 'Italy". But now it's enough.
Rome can not even count on Vienna. "Excessive debts" are "dangerous", not only "for the countries that have accumulated them", but "also for Europe", says Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. And this is Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic: "The key policy of my government has been fiscal consolidation, so I believe that the same criteria should be applied to everyone".
In short, the chorus is unique against Rome, is raging in the day of maximum vulnerability of the government, the day when Conte does not know whether to take care of the criticism on the maneuver or if you stick to the phone to try to appease the war between Di Maio and Salvini. It does both. It convenes a press conference which then becomes only a print point, which is deleted to be replaced at the end by a true press conference.
The premier tries to withstand the very strong pressure also at the lunch of the Eurosummit enlarged to the 27 format (even with countries that do not use the euro). There he can not evade the 'maneuver' argument. "Not that someone asked me – he says – but it seemed correct to me to talk about the Italian maneuver". "The more time passes, the more convinced that the maneuver is very beautiful", he had said this morning.
Already. However, by Monday he and the government will have to provide an answer to the Commission. And for now they seem adamant. So much so that in Brussels there are rumors of a rejection of the Italian plan already on Tuesday. So an acceleration with respect to the hypothesized timing of waiting for the rating agencies to vote on Friday and then take action. Here, however, if Monday Rome will respond spades, with all the European pressure in action, the EU Commission will not even have time to tergivers. Rejection then.
At less than five months of life, the government yellow-green is surrounded, only, divided and therefore weak. For Europe it has become the sacrificial lamb to punish the sovereignists before the European elections. The socialist opposition also notes it. "If anyone still doubted this European Council has served to certify that on the 'maneuver-sfascia-Italia' we are completely isolated in Europe", says the parent company Pd at the European Parliament Patrizia Toia.