The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) concluded at the end of March between China and Italy drove the global community into a frenzy of excitement. Indeed, Italy was the first amongst the Group of Seven industrialized nations (G7) and the founders of the European Union (EU) to commit to China’s infrastructure projects in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It has often been stated in the past that with the EU, China likes to divide and rule. But in the new, complex period we are all moving into, for once the case may be that the tables have turned, and now for relations with Europe, China is being divided and ruled.
The EU-China Summit to be held in Brussels this week comes at a crucial and unprecedented juncture in EU-China relations.
The March 31st Presidential elections in Ukraine matter for Ukraine, its region and the EU. While the majority of experts deem it impossible for a winner to be declared in the first round and, thus, expect a second one in April, the March contest will be a first important step in the crucial process to determine the direction the country will take. So, while we should not hold our breath on election day, we should definitely keep a close eye on the contest and its outcome.
Donald Trump's policies have introduced new tensions in the international order, an order that the U.S. had been defending and promoting since the Second World War. At the same time, China’s growth and Russia’s newfound assertiveness are increasingly challenging the Western liberal order. In short, the signs of the “end of a world” that many had taken for granted for decades are multiplying, with far-reaching consequences on the resilience of the international system, on multilateral organisations, and even on the institutional structure of individual states.
Radicalization in prison has long been a critical issue in the West (and beyond), where prisons have sometimes been turned in recruitment and proselytization hubs by different kinds of extremists, including jihadists. As is well known, one of the main concerns is that radicalized subjects may indoctrinate other common detainees. Italy has also been affected by this phenomenon and jihadist radicalization in prison represents a concrete threat.
Administrative expulsions for national security reasons have played a growing role in the Italian counter-terrorism strategy. As of October 18th, 2018, there have been 106 deportations on the grounds of extremism in 2018, surpassing last year’s 105 expulsions. The number has been growing since 2015, and their use has become more common. The provision can only be employed against foreign individuals present on Italian territory and once an individual is deported they are issued a prohibition from reentering the country for a period of at least 5 years.
Looking at political debates and perceived priorities, it seems that the coming NATO Summit will focus on the Eastern flank.
At the same time, the 11-12 July Summit will give the operative kick-start to the NATO Strategic Direction South (NSD-S) Hub, based in Naples and opened in September 2017.
Some thirty years ago, the American economist Charles Schultze (former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers and director of the Budget Bureau) addressed a question in reference to the U.S. budget deficit in terms of a metaphor: Is it a wolf at the door, a domestic pussycat, or termites in the basement? In retrospect, the question, raised at a time when the ratio of U.S. general government debt to economic output stood at less than 60 per cent, seems rather trivial in the light of a debt ratio nearly twice as high today and rising.
Trade between Italy and the USA has traditionally been significant and the two countries are close trade partners. The importance of the American market for Italian firms is today at its peak after many years. The US is the third foreign market for Italian exports, in 2017 accounting for 9% of the overall value of Italian goods sold abroad. In 2017, Italian exports of goods to the USA were worth over 40 billion euros, increasing remarkably in the past five years, while exports of services amounted to over 9 billion euros.