EU president issues veiled threat to Italy

Brussels has many ways to deal with member states that are straying from its values, says Ursula von der Leyen

The EU has “tools“To respond if the political situation in Italy comes in”difficult direction,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday. She hinted that the country could face penalties such as recent sanctions against Hungary and Poland if the upcoming elections lead to the anticipated right-wing sweep.

My approach is that any democratic government that is willing to work with us, we are working together.“, she said in response to a question about whether she had”concernsOn Sunday’s Italian parliamentary vote, in which the conservative Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party is predicted to take first place.

If things go hard, I talked about Hungary and Poland, we have the tools“Von der Leyen explained.

While EC spokesman Eric Mamer was quick to clarify that von der Leyen was merely “Emphasizing the Commission’s role as supervisor [European] treaties relating to the rule of law,” Not everyone interprets her words that way.

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Matteo Salvini, leader of the populist League party, denounced von der Leyen “shameful arrogance“And call the EC”respect the free, democratic and sovereign vote of the Italian people!“In the final round of polls earlier this month, the League was predicted to bring in 12% of the vote.

Earlier this month, the EC recommended suspending 7.5 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in funding to Hungary – a third of what it received from Brussels – compared to the alleged “undermining the rule of law.“Brussels granted a similar penalty to Poland last year after the country’s constitutional court found that some Polish laws applied EU law.

Italy’s snap parliamentary elections were triggered by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation in July after his partners in the ruling coalition abandoned him. Since September 9, when the ban on publishing election polls went into effect, Fratelli d’Italia is estimated to have taken 25% of the vote. In addition to the League’s 12%, coalition partner Forza Italia is projected to rake in 8%, meaning a victory for the conservative bloc is easily within reach. Fratelli d’Italia won only 4% of the vote in 2018.

Like the rest of the EU, Italy is grappling with a cost-of-living crisis exacerbated by bloc-wide sanctions on Russian oil and gas. An earlier general election has been set for the following year.

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