Meloni on the Ita-Lufthansa dossier: “Curious stalemate on the part of the European Union”


By John

The G20 in New Delhi receives the green light from the leaders for the final declaration and closes its doors with the exchange of orders between the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the Brazilian President, Ignacio Lula, who will lead the group of the “Big” starting from next December 1st. The final text, the result of a very long negotiation especially on the topic of the war in Ukraine, passes unanimously and, except for Kiev, satisfies everyone. Including Italy. The government «worked for a declaration that had a precise and specific reference to Ukraine, this was the most complex result and it was not an obvious result. It was a compromise solution but very important”, says Giorgia Meloni, meeting journalists at the end of the summit.

Beyond the obvious green light for the text, it is the friction between Rome and Brussels over the Ita-Lufthansa dossier that dominates the prime minister’s final day at the Indian summit. «Something is happening curious – says Meloni answering reporters’ questions – the European Commission, which has asked us for years to find a solution, blocks it when we find it. We would like an answer on this and the question was submitted to Commissioner Gentiloni by Minister Giorgetti.” The EU’s response is dry: “We have not yet received the notification of the agreement between ITA and Lufthansa and apart from this there is not much to say”, replies a Commission spokesperson when asked about the delays reported by the government for the green light for the merger between the two airlines. In the morning the topic was the subject of discussion in the meeting between Giorgetti himself and the German Finance Minister, Christian Lindner. The Ita Lufthansa dossier “has not yet received the green light from European competition, a necessary act to materialize the agreement already signed a few months ago”, was Giorgetti’s request.

Appointments at the top of the European institutions

The Ita-Lufthansa issue is intertwined with another key dossier that runs along the Rome-Brussels thread, that of appointments at the top of the European institutions. Italy continues to push for the name of former Draghi government minister, Daniele Franco, at the helm of the EIB, the European Investment Bank. Also running for the same position are two “heavy” candidates such as the Spanish vice prime minister Nadia Calvino and the former Danish competition commissioner and vice president of the Commission, Margrethe Vestager. In the morning Giorgetti himself asked his German counterpart for Berlin’s support in supporting the candidacy of the former director general of Bank of Italy. «”We have nominated a technical figure recognized by all for the EIB, we have not made a political choice», says Meloni referring to Franco. «I read in the debate that there could be political choices – he adds – but it would be a mistake. If we were to subjugate the highest institutions European elections to party choices would undermine these institutions, we must be very cautious.”
From a G20 perspective, Meloni, who flew to Qatar in the evening to meet Sheikh al-Thani, claims the success of a summit that “was not easy”, compliments Indian Prime Minister Modi for the success of the summit and defends the of the final declaration, considered by many to be much weaker than the document finalized in Bali a year ago: on Ukraine “no step backwards has been taken”, he says. «We worked for a declaration that had a specific reference to Ukraine, it was not an obvious result if we take into account that the ministerial meetings all ended without a final declaration. It’s a compromise statement but I still consider it important in this context.” In the final declaration there are also “many issues that interest Italy, such as migratory issues and the need to combat illegal flows and encourage legal emigration”.

Relations with China

Meloni also returns to relations with China, after Italy’s now clear decision to gradually withdraw from the agreement with Beijing on the New Silk Road. The ‘Belt and Road’ is not the only element in relations between Rome and Beijing and Italy’s exit from the project would not “compromise relations between the two countries”, says Meloni responding to journalists on the conversation with Chinese Prime Minister Li Qing had these days at the G20. «In most cases in international politics pragmatism wins, I trust that this time too it will go like this», he adds. As for the invitation from the Chinese leaders to go to Beijing, the prime minister confirms that the mission will take place, but “it will be better to do it when there are clearer elements”.