Giorgia Meloni’s First Year in Foreign Policy: Shifting Alliances and Global Priorities

A year into Giorgia Meloni’s leadership at Palazzo Chigi, Italy’s foreign policy landscape has witnessed notable shifts and continuities.

Support for Ukraine: Giorgia Meloni’s government has consistently shown support for Ukraine, both in rhetoric and through military assistance. This backing includes the approval of decrees facilitating the shipment of weapons to the Ukrainian army, a measure subject to parliamentary approval and extended until the end of the year.

Relations with Traditional European Allies: Italy’s relations with its long-standing European partners, particularly France led by Emmanuel Macron, have displayed nuances and occasional tensions, mainly over migration management. Disagreements reached a peak when a prominent figure in Macron’s party criticized Italy’s migration policy as “inhuman and ineffective,” straining diplomatic ties.

Engagement with Brussels: Meloni’s government has introduced some discontinuity in its relations with Brussels, making adjustments while broadly adhering to the economic framework established by former Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Notably, reforms concerning the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) were implemented to avoid potential conflicts with the European Union, particularly in the budget law.

Focus on Africa: A central aspect of Meloni’s foreign policy agenda is Africa. Her “Mattei Plan” emphasizes a cooperative approach with African nations, aiming to reduce Italy’s dependence on Russian gas and transform the country into an energy distribution hub connecting North Africa and the European Union. Meloni has conducted diplomatic missions in various African nations, signing agreements and memorandums of understanding, with a commitment to allocate a significant portion of the Climate Fund to Africa over the next five years.

Repositioning with China: Under Meloni’s leadership, Italy is gradually moving away from its “Silk Road” agreements with China. This shift was formalized during a meeting between Meloni and Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang in New Delhi, where it was decided not to renew the agreement. Ongoing discussions include a “soft” exit proposal to the Chinese, while the timing of Prime Minister Meloni’s visit to Beijing remains uncertain.

In summary, Giorgia Meloni’s government has navigated a complex foreign policy landscape, balancing support for Ukraine, managing relations with traditional European allies, maintaining engagement with Brussels, prioritizing Africa, and repositioning ties with China while asserting Italy’s global role.

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