Ever heard of Manfred Weber? A young Bavarian politician and leader of the European Parliament’s largest grouping, the European People’s Party (EPP), Manfred is a prime mover and shaker in the battle for the future of Europe. EPP members constitute almost half (13/27) of the European Commission and provide almost a third (9/28) of the European Council. The party boasts of having ‘pioneered the European project from its inception’.

Manfred was especially instrumental in torpedoing David Cameron’s attempt to extract concessions from the EU prior to the UK’s referendum on Brexit. ‘The EU is based on an ever-closer union of European peoples. That is set out in the treaties. It is not negotiable for us . . . We cannot sell the soul of Europe,’ he told the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung at the time.


The battle for the soul of Europe has now crossed the Alps to Italy. A new government of populist, Euro-sceptic Right, in the form of the League under Matteo Salvini, has agreed coalition terms with the populist Euro-sceptic ‘sort of’ Left-wing Five Star Movement (M5S) founded by comedian Beppe Grillo and now headed by Luigi di Maio. A strange brew, indeed, as even those who are well-versed in Italy’s political shenanigans recognise.

This is a nightmare for Manfred Weber and like-minded europhiles. In essence, the Italians have put two fingers up to Brussels and voted for the good life and an easy time. The new government’s cunning plan is to lower the state pension age and raise pension benefits. At the same time, and in accordance with the League’s electoral promise, taxes are to be reduced to a flat rate of 20 per cent for high earners and companies and 15 per cent for everyone else.

Meanwhile, Five Star’s electoral promise of a basic monthly income of 780 euros for unemployed Italians is to be implemented. Unsurprisingly, this went down well in the south of the country where unemployment is endemic. Within hours of the election results being declared, it was reported that queues of claimants were forming outside town halls in southern cities. This, of course, cannot have been true since Italians do not form queues.

So, earlier retirement, bigger pensions, lower taxes and guaranteed unearned monthly wages – what’s not to like? Some Italians may be a little nervous about a mooted entente with Russia, but who has Britain turned to in the past when Germany or France threatened?

Barmy it may be, but if you want to see stylish resistance to Brussels, visit Italy. It knows how to throw down the gauntlet and, indeed, how to fence.

Manfred, of course, is not happy with Italy’s political crazy gang taking power: ‘You are playing with fire because Italy is heavily indebted . . . irrational or populist actions could cause a new eurozone crisis.’ He appealed to them ‘to stay within the confines of reason’.

Our timid UK government could learn something from the League’s response. Its spokesman, Mario Bizzotto, told Manfred Weber that he should ‘mind his own bloody business, the Italians are tired of taking orders from Brussels and Berlin . . . Let Weber put his mind at ease: the time when Merkel and her proconsuls in Brussels set up and knocked down Italian governments according to the interests of Germans and their banks is over’.

He added: ‘The League-M5S government will act in the interests of the Italians, not of the Germans . . . It’s Weber who’s playing with fire.’

What next? The new Italian government has to find a prime minister – it will be an unelected technocrat, of course, since neither party will admit the other party’s candidate. When the name Conte popped up I wondered if it was Chelsea’s FA Cup-winning Italian manager. After all, the Italian soccer team has an unrivalled record against Germany in competitive matches.

Manfred Weber beware: taking on the governments of Greece and of the UK is one thing but taking on Italy’s political crazy gang is going to be something completely different.

24 COMMENTS

  1. A simplified tax system, 20% or 15% … will be interesting to see if tax take increases … and pays for those pensions …

  2. No one in Italy believes a word of it either the social welfare or the immigrant repatriation. It is all just posturing. I’ll take a flyer and make some predictions. The coalition government will collapse within 6 months. But not before taking the already tottering and debt ridden economy even further down the plug hole. Wonder who they’ll expect to bail them out? I’m sure the Russians will be glad to help.

    • The Russians are already helping our buddies the Germans ‘out’! Those staunch EU’ers who negotiated oil and gas with them despite sanctions and only the EU supposed to negotiate trade deals! Illegal, according to EU law, but hey, the Germans are in charge and the EU is for their benefit after all!!

      • Indeed! And I understand Merkel could have got her fuel from the eastern EU countries and done them some good at the same time, but no she chose to go begging to RUssia thus putting herself at their mercy. While I think Mrs May is bloody useless, Merkel is certainly not the great brain either – she’s also put herself at the mercy of Turkey since she reneged on her promise of a big bung and also of allowing them to join the EU if they held back the migrant hordes. Like Putin, Erdogan is not someone to mess with.

  3. but they of course have no intention of leaving the EU. unlike the extremely crazy gang currently & nominally in charge in this benighted land called the Disunited Kingdom .

  4. You don’t mention the most important two-fingers to the EU – both parties campaigned on leaving the Eurozone and deporting half a million illegal immigrants.

    If Conte can get that done he’ll become immortalised in Italian and Eu-sceptic countries’ history.

  5. …”” the battle for the heart of Europe “” … very funny ! … presumably another war to end all wars …

  6. Loony unworkable redistribution policies are easy to preach but they know they cannot implement them, so will will see what actually happens. Last I heard the EU had a quiet word in their shell likes and all the major demands that would actually make a difference were dumped and a technocrat was installed as PM? It’s a bit like electing a school council and actually thinking they have any power.

  7. “Crazy” ?

    How crazy is it, to simplify the tax regime of a nation?

    It seems absolutely slam dunk logical to me.

    Unemployment in the south is as you say ‘endemic’ and maybe the dole offer was a bribe, however it also seems to me to be a more logical move, because Southern Italians see the benefits showered on those who’ve just alighted from the boats from Malta/Lampedusa via Libya the EU asylum seekers ‘allowance’ is stipulated to be €36k pa, 700+euros a month will somewhat assauge the murderous south, perhaps even persaude one to two not to join the Camorra.

    19 years in the €zero has done FA for the Italian economy the Lira was always an unstable currency but it suited the Italian economy, now that they are suffocating and strapped into the €zero Straitjacket bound by the German machine – slowly but surely italy is having the life, industry and factories sucked out of her (and yes the Turin car industry did need breaking up – but that was all to do with the Communists, mafia and Spanish practices).

    Now it that moment, for certain it is WAY past time for another direction to be tried.

    Honestly?! now to me that doesn’t sound crazy, on the contrary the move seems perfectly rational to me.

  8. May and the rest of her useless cabal are determined to be polite to and accommodate everyone, except Trump and the British people.

      • “May is a Communist the sooner people realise it the better !”

        Which is why her (maybot) and Mutti get on so very well, so well in fact dat dey is goin’ ta burn da whole bleedin’ house down.

        Does our halfwit premier missus may hate us SO much?

        Observing her years in government, from the HO to the top job, would thus lead to, the only logical conclusion an eminently rational person could draw, ie, affirmative.

  9. Alas the article didn’t run to Matteo Salvini’s policies on immigration which are just what Britain needs.

    https://www.ft.com/content/d9b7a876-1d48-11e8-956a-43db76e69936

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/19/italys-northern-league-pledges-mass-migrant-deportations

    You have to love this guy for his p*ss taking of the Fascist left too:

    The leader of the Northern League said he had lost weight while hunting for votes around the country, so would be eating “six kilos of polenta with ossobuco” that night. “I won’t say salami or pork because some may get offended. Long live sausage! Long live salami! Long live pork, coppa and pancetta,” he told a cheering crowd in the northeastern city of Padua.

    After the quip about Muslim pork consumption, he became serious on his plans to rid Italy of illegal immigrants. “Guys, we have imported a few good people,” Mr Salvini said. “But there has also been a tide of delinquents and I want to send them home, from the first to the last. We are packed with drug dealers, rapists, burglars — and the League is the solution.”

    What a guy! If he does deport a million benefit claiming migrants then he probably can give the people of Italy what he promises and still balance the books!

  10. “The EU is based on an ever-closer union of European peoples.”

    What does Manfred Weber mean by “European peoples”? I am puzzled because of the EU’s insistence on opening its borders to peoples from other continents, and its insistence that the recalcitrant countries of central Europe fall into line with this policy that seems guaranteed to … well, you might almost say “sell the soul of Europe”.

    • All part of the plan. By importing the masses from abroad, they hope to erode people’s sense of national identity, which is inevitably tied to their ethnicity and heritage. They think this will create “European man” who is merely a set of “values”.

      It’s the same as the Soviet’s attempts to create Homo Sovieticus, and it will fail because that’s not how people work. The Tower of Babel is more relevant than ever.

    • They have a very loose idea of what constitutes Europeans. Anyone who turns up, basically.

  11. Could be the saving of Brexit – if Italy really play up it could bring down the EU which would solve our problems.

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