EU warned over major clashes with Italy’s new far-right PM Meloni

Georgia Meloni says 'we will not take lessons' from France

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A right-wing alliance led by Ms Meloni triumphed in Italy’s general elections on Sunday, inheriting one of the eurozone’s heaviest debt burdens at a time of rising borrowing costs and looming recession. Ms Meloni has pledged not to take risks with Italy’s fragile finances and stick to European Union budget rules but coalition partner Matteo Salvini has called for increasing the deficit.

Fiscal rules are not the only issue Italy is expected to clash on with Brussels as the new government decides on new Cabinet roles.

According to an Associate research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Dr Helena Ivanov, the newly elected government will lock horns with the EU on social rights, immigration and future sanctions on Russia.

She told Express.co.uk: “The relationship between Italy and the EU is going to be more complicated than it was before. I think it is absolutely no secret that Meloni, but also her coalition partners are eurosceptic political parties, and that they sort of want to run the line of Italy first.

“So I think if we wanna compare what we’re likely to see once this government is formed with what we’ve seen before with previous governments, I think the relationship is bound to become more difficult.”

Asked to pinpoint three major areas in which Italy is expected to have issues with European policies, she said: “Social justice and immigration.”

During the election campaign, Ms Meloni has repeatedly denied suggestions she might roll back legislation on abortion or gay rights, while reaffirming her opposition to adoptions and surrogacy for LGBT couples .

She has also often spoken out against mass immigration, though she is trying to play down her party’s post-fascist roots and portray it as a mainstream group like Britain’s Conservatives.

Ahead of the election, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned the executive was ready to use its tools against a “difficult” government ahead of the vote.

Addressing her comments, Dr Ivanov added: “I think that the comments coming from the EU in the run-up to the elections probably haven’t helped the EU cause, because we’ve seen some of the representatives of this coalition responding to the comments coming from the EU in a way in which it was indicated that these comments are somewhat a violation of Italy’s democratic rights and sovereignty and that Italian people should be allowed to vote any way they want.”

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On Tuesday, the Commission urged the new government to stick to reform plans as it cleared the way for the payment of an additional €21billion in post-COVID recovery funds.

The Commission said Italy had met a series of 45 landmarks and targets in reform of areas such as public employment, procurement, tax administration, teaching and healthcare to qualify for another part of a €192billion programme.

“So congratulations, Italia, and keep up the good work! The Commission stands by you on your way to recovery,” Ms von der Leyen said in a statement.

Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said the funding offered a unique chance to transform the Italian economy.

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“I urge the next Italian government to ensure that this opportunity is seized,” Mr Gentiloni, a former Italian prime minister, said in a statement.

Ms Meloni said before the election that there should be scope to amend the programme to reflect the impact of the energy crisis.

The latest funding, still subject to final EU sign-off, will be invested in areas such as 5G telecoms, tourism and reforms to the justice system.

Italy has already received some €46billion of funding which is paid in the form of grants and loans.

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