Pam Barker | Director of TLB Europe Reloaded Project
According to a report from RT France titled Salvini en Pologne : «Il est temps de remplacer l’axe franco-allemand par un axe italo-polonais» (Salvini in Poland: “It’s time to replace the French-German axis with an Italian-Polish one”), Salvini has presented a working draft of 10 proposals to the de facto leader of the ruling PiS party in Poland, Jaroslaw Kaczynski (pictured) as a way to kickstart a common policy platform ahead of the European elections in May. Recognizing that there are cultural differences between the two nations, including a difference of attitude toward Russia as the Zerohedge (Reuters) piece below points out, Salvini’s initial proposals are a way to achieve a common ‘pact’ for Eurosceptic nations within the EU before May.
It’s not stated what was actually discussed or what the common points of agreement are, but RT reports that agreement between the two leaders was of the order of 90%.
In the spirit of ‘saving Europe’, Salvini is proposing an Italian-Polish axis to replace the French-German one, which has been the backbone of EU organization and power since the beginning. Of note, Salvini says that he would like to reform the EU to be closer to the citizens than the elites.
And on the topic of supporting citizens, Salvini and Luigi Di Maio (pictured right) have already expressed their support publicly for the Gilets Jaunes (Le gouvernement italien exprime son soutien aux Gilets jaunes français) with di Maio having offered one of the Gilets Jaunes leaders, Eric Drouet (pictured left), arrested on a technicality a week ago, the use of his website Rousseau to facilitate political organization. He’s also invited Drouet to Italy for a meeting (Leader of Yellow Vests says he would accept Italian leadership invitation).
Italy’s Salvini Visits Poland To Discuss “Eurosceptic Alliance”
According to Reuters, Italy’s far-right Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is planning to meet with the leader of Poland’s ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of creating a “eurosceptic alliance” that will participate in the European Parliamentary elections in May.
The meeting is part of a broader plan by eurosceptic governments that Reuters said could “fundamentally shift the direction of the European Union after the elections.” Salvini’s visit to Warsaw was organized by Polish Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski.
“(The election) will show whether the eurosceptic voices within Europe are on the rise or if the rise has been curtailed for the moment,” said Michal Baranowski, the head of the German Marshall Fund’s Warsaw office.
Salvini, the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant League Party and one of two men who are effectively running the country (along with M5S leader Luigi Di Maio), has repeatedly criticized the EU and warned that the May elections are important for creating a “reformist” bloc that he hopes can change Brussels from within. He has even gone as far as to hint that he could be a candidate to lead the European Commission.
“Someone has betrayed the European dream,” Salvini told a League rally in Rome last month. “We will provide the blood for a new European community based on respect, work, growth and equality.”
Kaczynski has said that Poland (which, as Reuters notes, is the biggest beneficiary of EU infrastructure funding) should retain its membership in the bloc, which it joined in 2004. But he wants reforms to bring more power back from Brussels to national capitals.
As Reuters points out, should Poland join forces with a bloc of Eurosceptic parties united by Salvini, it could stand to benefit Poland. To be sure, Poland has recently backed down from some of its more controversial measures, including a law that forced judges into early retirement. That law had ignited widespread indignation across the bloc.
Salvini met other potential allies last year, including Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in an effort to form a cohesive eurosceptic grouping at the EU level.
Salvini could try to unite the Europe of Nations and Freedom bloc, to which his League belongs, with the European Conservatives and Reformists group which includes PiS to create a single, powerful eurosceptic force in the EU Parliament.
A tie-up with Salvini’s grouping could ensure a powerful voice for PiS in the next European Parliament, especially as Britain’s Conservatives will leave the European Conservatives and Reformists grouping after Brexit.
But PiS has also been trying to dilute its eurosceptic reputation ahead of Poland’s own parliamentary election due in the autumn, recently agreeing to reverse a law criticized by the EU that had forced Supreme Court judges into early retirement.
If there is one potential obstacle to closer ties between Italy and Poland, it would be their dramatically different views about Russia. Salvini is one of the most unabashedly pro-Kremlin leaders in Europe, while Poland’s ruling party remains deeply distrustful of Moscow.
Still, if eurosceptics find a way to organize to maximize their leverage in the European Union Parliament following the election, it could open the door to a forced rollback of the unpopular pro-immigration policies and austerity pushed by Brussels that have helped trigger the swell in populist support.
ER recommends other articles by Zerohedge