Italexit, Europe’s new Brexit

Italy has recently been questioning whether or not to leave the EU. After Brexit rocked the political scene in Europe for several years, an “Italexit” could be on the horizon.

“The omens are quite good for the Italians, and, of course, it’s not going to be announced in advance that they will leave the Euro, but leave the Euro I think they will do. And it will be in their best interest to do so,” said British businessman Jim Mellon, according to Express.

Mellon believes one of the major causes of Italy contemplating leaving the EU is the European Central Bank. Currently, Italy’s national debt is over $2.5 trillion. Mellon told CNBC, “There is no way the ECB can contain the Italian situation if it carries on as it is. We know if the [Italian government bonds] got above 4 percent and yield—and they’re not that far away from it—then Italy really has no option but to leave the Euro and take some drastic action.”

When the country drafted their annual budget proposal, the Italian government attempted to increase their budget deficit to 2.4 percent. The move goes against EU regulations in place to protect what is called the “Eurozone,” an area made up of 19 countries in the EU which use the euro as their currency.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini agreed with Mellon, warning the EU against interfering with Italy’s 2019 budget. “We have a right to work, a right to health, a right to education, a right to pension,” Salvini said. The Deputy Prime Minister called on the citizens of Italy to stand by their government in a live Facebook video. “In Brussels, they have nothing else to do but send us disapproving letters, threatening letters, telling us to change our budget plan, not to change our pension law. Telling us not to reduce taxation but to actually add more.

“Nothing and nobody, no big or small letter will make us backtrack. Italy will no longer be a slave and will no longer kneel down.”

In November 2018, the EU threatened Italy, promising to fine the country unless the proposed budget changed to follow the EU’s guidelines. An agreement between the two parties was not reached until Dec. 19, resulting in Italy’s leaders agreeing to the terms of the EU. The compromise saw the reduction of the Italian budget by billions of dollars, and “did so in the face of costly penalties and potentially debilitating economic punishment,” according to The New York Times.

“Those who are now ruling the EU have not been getting what the European people are really feeling,” said Ignazio Carraro, adviser to Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement. “In fact, they are heading in the opposite direction to what the people want. Their behavior and messages they continue to send out are exactly what the people have rejected.”

In line with Carraro’s statement, Daniela Boni, a retired bank and government employee, told Al Jazeera, “I think Italy should leave the EU as well. I support Brexit, and I think [the UK] did well by keeping out of the Eurozone. We should look after our own borders and our own affairs.”