Berlusconi has been quoted recently making many comments critical of the current EU. In particular he says that he doesn’t get any replies to his concerns about the Euro being too high for Italy to cope, and he mentions that the current bunch of leaders are less impressive than were Blair, Chirac, Aznar.
Referring to a EU summit beginning in Brussels later Thursday Berlusconi said: ‘I return to Europe … and I find it different compared to two years ago when it had people like (former British prime minister) Tony Blair, (former Spanish premier Jose Maria) Aznar, (former French president Jacques) Chirac and myself.’
‘With the change of names Europe has lost character, the ability to be a protagonist and has taken backward steps,’ Berlusconi said.
‘Also, thanks to its enlargement process, the European Union seems to be an institution which intervenes by imposing obligations and restrictions,’ he told the Confcommercio assembly.
Berlusconi also expressed dismay with the workings of the European Commission, which has probed the Italian government’s plans to financially assist state-controlled airline, Alitalia, while some of its members have criticized Rome’s immigration policies
‘One of the first things I’ll ask is for the European Commission to express itself in a different and reserved manner,’ towards the governments of members states, Berlusconi said.
He went on to elaborate that he wasn’t getting any reply to his concerns that Italy was suffering from the high level of the Euro, making her businesses uncompetitive.
MILAN (Thomson Financial) – Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said the EU has not given a clear reply to his concerns about the strong euro and industry’s loss of competitiveness in the face of Asia imports.
Speaking at a conference for small- and medium-size business, he said: ‘Europe has not known how to give a reply, (there has been) no reply, and I believe that it ought to work in this direction.
‘I will make myself heard … to make a concrete defence of the interests of business operators and citizens,’ he said.
And yet Berlusconi, despite this expression of faux euroscepticism, has just committed himself to pushing the Lisbon Treaty through Italy’s Parliament by August. He seems to have persuaded Bossi the head of the Northern League to drop its objections to ratifying the Lisbon Treaty, although other members of the Northern League are not sounding as cooperative.
The importance Berlusconi and Frattini gave to approving the Lisbon Treaty was not shared by everyone in the Italian government and the minister for simplification, Roberto Calderoli of the devolutionist Northern League, even welcomed the Irish rejection.
”It is obvious that if the EU presents treaties like this one to the people, the people are going to reject them,” he observed.
After the Irish vote, Calderoli said he had sent his ”thanks to the people of Ireland” for their rejection of a treaty ”which would have entrusted our country’s affairs to the hands of bureaucrats and not representatives elected by the people”. ”The people, once again, have shown they have greater wisdom than governments and parliamentarians,” he added.
However, Calderoli was later contradicted by Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, the minister for reform, who said on Thursday that their party would vote in favor of the Treaty.
”If Britain hadn’t voted fore it the treaty would be dead, but they did and so it’s still in the cards,” Bossi said.
If Italian nationalists can be bought off so easily, then so too may Irish farmers.
UPDATE – No sooner does one Lisbon refusal prospect disappear and another one appears. See the news from Austria from Iain Dale HERE.