chapter  4
13 Pages

National interests and differentiated integration in the EU under crisis conditions: The cases of Germany, France and Britain

ByCHRISTIAN SCHWEIGER

This chapter illustrates the traditional consensus that has existed amongst Italian political elites and in public opinion about the centrality of Europe for Italy's modernization has eroded over the last two decades. The party manifestoes and the discourse of the political leaders are now much more diversified and politicized than in the past in defining the relation between Italy and the European Union (EU). The chapter traces the evolution of Italy in the EU, highlighting its ambivalent position between centre and periphery. It shows how the centreperiphery tension was at the heart of Italy's position throughout the recent economic crisis. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Treaty of Rome and European integration had two important related and legitimizing roles for Italy. For many politicians and for a growing part of the public opinion, the EU was neither able to guarantee modernization nor protect Italian society from broader global pressures.