Inclusive attitude towards possible new members

In the Ital­ian debate, it is com­mon opin­ion that Croa­t­ia and Mace­do­nia are the best can­di­dates to enter the EU in the next enlarge­ment round. In this regard, com­ments are usu­al­ly pos­i­tive. Indeed, the nation­al polit­i­cal estab­lish­ment has tra­di­tion­al­ly sup­port­ed the access of the Balkan coun­tries to the EU. In the words of Ital­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Frat­ti­ni, Croa­t­ia and Mace­do­nia have both over­come sev­er­al obsta­cles, and it seems legit­i­mate to imag­ine Zagreb in the EU in the course of 2011.11Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Inter­ven­to del Min­istro Fran­co Frat­ti­ni all’International Desk Forum sug­li “Sce­nari di svilup­po dell’Area Adri­ati­co-Bal­cani­ca”, Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interventi/2010/03/20100308_InternationalDesk.htm (last access: 21 April 2010). The same opin­ion is expressed by the research com­mu­ni­ty, which noticed how the recent elec­tion of Ivo Josipović as Croa­t­ian Pres­i­dent sub­stan­tial­ly increased the odds of the coun­try join­ing the EU.22Gio­van­na Casa: La Croazia più vic­i­na all’UE dopo la vit­to­ria di Josipovic, Affar­In­ter­nazion­ali, 13 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=1363 (last access: 21 April 2010).

The case of Mace­do­nia appears more prob­lem­at­ic. The Ital­ian gov­ern­ment is striv­ing to push Brus­sels to open nego­ti­a­tions as soon as pos­si­ble, leav­ing aside the thorny debate with Greece over the name of the for­mer Yugoslav Repub­lic.33Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Inter­ven­to del Min­istro Fran­co Frat­ti­ni all’International Desk Forum su gli “Sce­nari di svilup­po dell’Area Adri­aico-Bal­cani­ca”, Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interventi/2010/03/20100308_InternationalDesk.htm (last access: 21 April 2010).

The forth­com­ing Euro­pean mem­ber­ship of both Croa­t­ia and Mace­do­nia are thus con­sid­ered with favour by the Ital­ian polit­i­cal par­ties and pub­lic opin­ion. As report­ed in the Nation­al Strate­gic Con­cept of the Min­istry of Defense, the rea­son is man­ly geostrate­gic.44Il Con­cet­to Strate­gi­co del Capo di Sta­to Mag­giore del­la Dife­sa, Min­is­tero del­la Dife­sa, avail­able at: http://www.difesa.it/NR/rdonlyres/7CF00FEA-D74E-4533-B3ED-9CCCD8B79E89/0/libroconcettostrategico.pdf (last access: 21 April 2010). This approach is there­fore like­ly to remain con­sis­tent in the near future, con­cern­ing the whole Balkan area.

The inclu­sive atti­tude towards pos­si­ble new Euro­pean mem­ber states is main­tained by Italy also in regard of oth­er, more prob­lem­at­ic, can­di­dates. Mon­tene­gro, Alba­nia and Ser­bia are all exam­ples of this state of affairs. Although there are still con­cerns about their political/economic per­for­mance, the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment and the For­eign Min­is­ter Frat­ti­ni have demand­ed a rapid solu­tion con­cern­ing their admis­sion requests, rais­ing their chances to join the EU sig­nif­i­cant­ly.55Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Inter­ven­to del Min­istro Fran­co Frat­ti­ni all’International Desk Forum su gli “Sce­nari di svilup­po dell’Area Adri­ati­co-Bal­cani­ca”, Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interventi/2010/03/20100308_InternationalDesk.htm (last access: 21 April 2010); Michele Comelli/Raffaello Mataraz­zo: L’Unione Euro­pea ed il ruo­lo dell’Italia, in: Gian­ni Bonvicini/Alessandro Colom­bo (eds.): La polit­i­ca estera ital­iana, Il Muli­no 2010, p. 107.

The case of Koso­vo appears, how­ev­er, to be more com­plex. Diplo­mat­ic divi­sions over its fresh inde­pen­dence still per­sist in Europe, and a solu­tion seems improb­a­ble in the short term.66Pietro Pao­lo Pro­to: La tor­men­ta­ta stra­da del Koso­vo ver­so l’UE, Affar­In­ter­nazion­ali, 16 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=1394 (last access: 21 April 2010). Nev­er­the­less, Frat­ti­ni recent­ly stat­ed that Koso­vo has a Euro­pean future, acknowl­edg­ing at the same time the need for a more bal­anced rule of law sys­tem in the coun­try.77ASCA: La Croazia nell’UE entro il 2011, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.asca.it/news-BALCANI__FRATTINI__LA_CROAZIA_NELL_UE_ENTRO_IL_2011-899905-ORA-.html (last access: 21 April 2010). The same posi­tion is also main­tained on the Euro­pean future of Ser­bia, for which Prime Min­is­ter Berlus­coni hoped a rapid admis­sion into the EU.88Il Foglio: L’Europa si apre alla Ser­bia e la Ser­bia si apre all’Europa, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ilfoglio.it/soloqui/4077 (last access: 21 April 2010).

Inter­est­ing­ly enough, how­ev­er, the last avail­able Euro­barom­e­ter shows that the Ital­ian pub­lic, think­ing that the EU has enlarged too rapid­ly in recent years, remains against new enlarge­ment rounds.99Euro­barometro: Rap­por­to Nazionale Italia, Euro­barometro n.72, Autumn 2009, avail­able at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb72/eb72_it_it_nat.pdf (last access: 4 May 2010).

In addi­tion, it is impor­tant to under­line here the Ital­ian posi­tion regard­ing the con­tro­ver­sial can­di­da­ture of Turkey. Although the issue remains divi­sive at the nation­al polit­i­cal lev­el, the gov­ern­ment recent­ly restat­ed its sup­port to an even­tu­al entrance of Turkey into the EU.1010La Stam­pa: La UE res­ta scetti­ca sull’adesione, 23 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://archivio.lastampa.it/LaStampaArchivio/main/History/tmpl_viewObj.jsp?objid=10220436 (last access: 21 April 2010).

The Mediter­ranean Sea is an impor­tant geostrate­gic region for Italy. This inter­est was recent­ly restat­ed when For­eign Min­is­ter Frat­ti­ni called, in an arti­cle appear­ing in one of the most impor­tant nation­al news­pa­pers, for the cre­ation of an eco­nom­ic com­mu­ni­ty in the Mediter­ranean, able to mir­ror the Euro­pean project and fur­ther the cre­ation of future com­mon val­ues and polit­i­cal sta­bil­i­ty.1111Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Mediter­ra­neo e svolte: serve un author­i­ty, Cor­riere del­la Sera, 5 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interviste/2010/02/20100205_Frattinitrieste.htm?LANG=IT (last access: 22 April 2010). There­fore, Ital­ian sup­port for the Union for the Mediter­ranean (UfM) seems rather nat­ur­al. Even if the project is going through a phase of deep reflec­tion, the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment renewed dur­ing a meet­ing with the French Pres­i­dent Sarkozy its sup­port for the UfM and its will to work­ing for the suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion of its activ­i­ties.1212Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri: Ver­tice Ita­lo-Francese, 9 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Approfondimenti/2010/04/20100409_Vertice_ItaliaFrancia.htm (last access: 22 April 2010).

Uneasi­ness towards the poor results of the ini­tia­tive has been expressed by the Pres­i­dent of the Ital­ian Repub­lic Gior­gio Napoli­tano, who high­light­ed that its unex­pressed poten­tial­i­ties con­tin­ue to pre­vail over tan­gi­ble results.1313L’Unione Sar­da: Mediter­ra­neo, Napoli­tano: l’Europa deve fare di più, 26 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://unionesarda.ilsole24ore.com/Articoli/Articolo/165428 (last access: 22 April 2010). More­over, the Ital­ian research com­mu­ni­ty also expressed scep­ti­cism, not­ing how the UfM con­tin­ues to exist only on paper, far away from the goal includ­ed in the Euro-Mediter­ranean Part­ner­ship of the cre­ation of a free-trade area in the Mediter­ranean.1414Aspen Insti­tute: Back to the fer­tile cres­cent, 6 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.aspeninstitute.it/aspen/?q=ev/AspenEuropeanDialogue_10 (last access: 22 April 2010). The upcom­ing con­fer­ence in Barcelona, sched­uled for June 2010, will prob­a­bly give more infor­ma­tion regard­ing these dif­fi­cul­ties and the future of the UfM, although the usu­al con­trasts between Israel and Arab coun­tries risk to frus­trate any poten­tial improvement.

On the oth­er hand, less inter­est has been expressed on the East­ern Part­ner­ship. Indeed, the sub­ject has been some­what side­lined by the Ital­ian press and pub­lic debate, and few dec­la­ra­tions have been made by the For­eign Min­is­ter Frat­ti­ni. Dur­ing a meet­ing with his Mol­da­vian coun­ter­part, Frat­ti­ni reaf­firmed Italy’s great inter­est in the East­ern Part­ner­ship, hop­ing to trans­form this coop­er­a­tion tool through sev­er­al asso­ci­a­tion agree­ments with the Cau­casian coun­tries, which had been pre­vi­ous­ly done with Moldo­va and Ukraine.1515Il Pic­co­lo: Frat­ti­ni-Lean­ca ‘Moldo­va a un pas­so dall’UE’, 26 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interviste/2010/02/20100226_MoldovaaunpassodallUE.htm (last access: 22 April 2010). The same posi­tion had been main­tained before in regard of Belarus.1616Il Mes­sag­gero: Nel­la UE ci può essere pos­to anche per la Bielorus­sia, 29 Sep­tem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.gov.it/MAE/Templates/IntervIntervTemplate.aspx?NRMODE=Published&NRNODEGUID=%7B773A0E29-DD83-46C6-B7D7-6B037B5362DD%7D&NRORIGINALURL=%2FMAE%2FIT%2FSala_Stampa%2FArchivioNotizie%2FInterviste%2F2009%2F09%2F20090929_Frattini_Bielorussia.htm&NRCACHEHINT=Guest (last access: 22 April 2010).

For its part, some mem­bers of the Ital­ian research com­mu­ni­ty pre­ferred to high­light the weak influ­ence the East­ern Part­ner­ship has on sev­er­al latent con­flicts in its geo­graph­i­cal area. In this regard, the foun­da­tion of a stronger coop­er­a­tion between Brus­sels and Moscow is ulti­mate­ly sug­gest­ed as a pos­si­ble way for­ward. The role for Italy is to favour this com­pli­cat­ed polit­i­cal dia­logue with Rus­sia, and assess whether the role of non-gov­ern­men­tal actors with­in the East­ern Part­ner­ship is pos­si­ble.1717Osser­va­to­rio di Polit­i­ca Inter­nazionale: Il Parte­nar­i­a­to Ori­en­tale dell’UE tra debolezze e poten­zial­ità, Sen­a­to del­la Repub­bli­ca, Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ispionline.it/it/documents/Approfondimento_%20Partenariato%20Orientale.pdf (last access: 4 May 2010).

    Footnotes

  • 1Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Inter­ven­to del Min­istro Fran­co Frat­ti­ni all’International Desk Forum sug­li “Sce­nari di svilup­po dell’Area Adri­ati­co-Bal­cani­ca”, Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interventi/2010/03/20100308_InternationalDesk.htm (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 2Gio­van­na Casa: La Croazia più vic­i­na all’UE dopo la vit­to­ria di Josipovic, Affar­In­ter­nazion­ali, 13 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=1363 (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 3Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Inter­ven­to del Min­istro Fran­co Frat­ti­ni all’International Desk Forum su gli “Sce­nari di svilup­po dell’Area Adri­aico-Bal­cani­ca”, Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interventi/2010/03/20100308_InternationalDesk.htm (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 4Il Con­cet­to Strate­gi­co del Capo di Sta­to Mag­giore del­la Dife­sa, Min­is­tero del­la Dife­sa, avail­able at: http://www.difesa.it/NR/rdonlyres/7CF00FEA-D74E-4533-B3ED-9CCCD8B79E89/0/libroconcettostrategico.pdf (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 5Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Inter­ven­to del Min­istro Fran­co Frat­ti­ni all’International Desk Forum su gli “Sce­nari di svilup­po dell’Area Adri­ati­co-Bal­cani­ca”, Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interventi/2010/03/20100308_InternationalDesk.htm (last access: 21 April 2010); Michele Comelli/Raffaello Mataraz­zo: L’Unione Euro­pea ed il ruo­lo dell’Italia, in: Gian­ni Bonvicini/Alessandro Colom­bo (eds.): La polit­i­ca estera ital­iana, Il Muli­no 2010, p. 107.
  • 6Pietro Pao­lo Pro­to: La tor­men­ta­ta stra­da del Koso­vo ver­so l’UE, Affar­In­ter­nazion­ali, 16 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.affarinternazionali.it/articolo.asp?ID=1394 (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 7ASCA: La Croazia nell’UE entro il 2011, 8 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.asca.it/news-BALCANI__FRATTINI__LA_CROAZIA_NELL_UE_ENTRO_IL_2011-899905-ORA-.html (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 8Il Foglio: L’Europa si apre alla Ser­bia e la Ser­bia si apre all’Europa, 18 Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ilfoglio.it/soloqui/4077 (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 9Euro­barometro: Rap­por­to Nazionale Italia, Euro­barometro n.72, Autumn 2009, avail­able at: http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb72/eb72_it_it_nat.pdf (last access: 4 May 2010).
  • 10La Stam­pa: La UE res­ta scetti­ca sull’adesione, 23 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://archivio.lastampa.it/LaStampaArchivio/main/History/tmpl_viewObj.jsp?objid=10220436 (last access: 21 April 2010).
  • 11Fran­co Frat­ti­ni: Mediter­ra­neo e svolte: serve un author­i­ty, Cor­riere del­la Sera, 5 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interviste/2010/02/20100205_Frattinitrieste.htm?LANG=IT (last access: 22 April 2010).
  • 12Min­is­tero degli Affari Esteri: Ver­tice Ita­lo-Francese, 9 April 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Approfondimenti/2010/04/20100409_Vertice_ItaliaFrancia.htm (last access: 22 April 2010).
  • 13L’Unione Sar­da: Mediter­ra­neo, Napoli­tano: l’Europa deve fare di più, 26 Jan­u­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://unionesarda.ilsole24ore.com/Articoli/Articolo/165428 (last access: 22 April 2010).
  • 14Aspen Insti­tute: Back to the fer­tile cres­cent, 6 March 2010, avail­able at: http://www.aspeninstitute.it/aspen/?q=ev/AspenEuropeanDialogue_10 (last access: 22 April 2010).
  • 15Il Pic­co­lo: Frat­ti­ni-Lean­ca ‘Moldo­va a un pas­so dall’UE’, 26 Feb­ru­ary 2010, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.it/MAE/IT/Sala_Stampa/ArchivioNotizie/Interviste/2010/02/20100226_MoldovaaunpassodallUE.htm (last access: 22 April 2010).
  • 16Il Mes­sag­gero: Nel­la UE ci può essere pos­to anche per la Bielorus­sia, 29 Sep­tem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.esteri.gov.it/MAE/Templates/IntervIntervTemplate.aspx?NRMODE=Published&NRNODEGUID=%7B773A0E29-DD83-46C6-B7D7-6B037B5362DD%7D&NRORIGINALURL=%2FMAE%2FIT%2FSala_Stampa%2FArchivioNotizie%2FInterviste%2F2009%2F09%2F20090929_Frattini_Bielorussia.htm&NRCACHEHINT=Guest (last access: 22 April 2010).
  • 17Osser­va­to­rio di Polit­i­ca Inter­nazionale: Il Parte­nar­i­a­to Ori­en­tale dell’UE tra debolezze e poten­zial­ità, Sen­a­to del­la Repub­bli­ca, Decem­ber 2009, avail­able at: http://www.ispionline.it/it/documents/Approfondimento_%20Partenariato%20Orientale.pdf (last access: 4 May 2010).

The reports focus on a report­ing peri­od from Decem­ber 2009 until May 2010. This sur­vey was con­duct­ed on the basis of a ques­tion­naire that has been elab­o­rat­ed in March and April 2010. Most of the 31 reports were deliv­ered in May 2010.

The EU-27 Watch No. 9 receives sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing from the Otto Wolff-Foun­da­tion, Cologne, in the frame­work of the ‘Dia­log Europa der Otto Wolff-Stiftung’, and finan­cial sup­port from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion is not respon­si­ble for any use that may be made of the infor­ma­tion con­tained therein.