Von der Leyen hostage of the Italian political paralysis

Italy is blocking Ursula von der Leyen’s activity. The Italian delay in finding a name for the next European Commission prevents the German Commission chief from finalizing the structure of the EU executive body. EU sources told this website that the President elect can’t work on the distribution of portfolios because of the missing candidate from the Italian peninsula.

So far everyone except Italy offered a name to von der Leyen, be it satisfactory or not. The President elect reportedly considers Italy as key to shape the team, and she doesn’t want to start assembling the musical chairs without knowing who is coming from Rome.

Despite the new anti-European wave in Italy, this country is still considered a key member state. This is why the first ever female president of the EU Commission wants to wait for Italy.

The political deadlock beyond the Alps is messing up timelines and plans. Von der Leyen’s intention was to conclude all the interviews by this week in order to have a first assessment and a first idea on how to organise her Commission.

“Roles and distribution of portfolios will depend on interviews”, the EU Commission spokesperson Mina Andreeva pointed out Monday (2 September). Unfortunately with great probability Italy won’t be in the position of notifying of its commissioner candidate by the end of the week. Some delay is inevitable. No surprise, then, if the creation of next college of commissioner “is still an ongoing process”, as Andreeva stressed.

EU sources explained that von der Leyen is in contact with Giuseppe Conte, since he is still the prime minister of Italy. Conte, however, has nothing to say because has nothing to offer. The situation is very complicated, so far. All political negotiations tabled since the beginning of the political crisis concerned domestic affairs.

Politicians from the Democratic Party (PD) and the Five Star Movement (M5S) have been discussing about the composition of the eventual coalition government, political measures to be adopted and so forth. No real exchange of views about the European commissioner has taken place.

Waiting for Italy for von der Leyen is like waiting for Godot. All member states were required to submit their own commissioner candidate by 26 August. Italy was late, and still is. The country can’t waste further time because von der Leyen can’t wait forever. Respect and indulgence are there, but please don’t abuse of them: this is the message between the lines sent from Brussels to Rome.

Italy is the most difficult country, but is not the only member state raising problems for von der Leyen. “A certain number of governments didn’t formally submit their candidates”, EU sources explained, not entering into details. Apparently there is a procedure to follow, but this procedure has not been fully respected. This is why the circulating names “are not confirmed and not necessarily will be in the team” of von der Leyen. 

There is a difference between Italy and the other member states, of course. In the case of the other governments there are at least proposals. Perhaps they are not properly formulated or the indicated people cannot be considered as worthy of the chair. In the case of Italy, on the other hand, there is nothing. There is just the chaos produced by the local politicians, capable of blocking not only Italy, but also Europe. This is why everybody in the EU wishes a happy ending in the Italian drama. It would be good news for Italians, too. Unfortunately it seems that they don’t understand it.

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