Talking Europe speaks to a veteran of the European and Italian political scenes, former EU Commissioner and former Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino. She shares her thoughts on the bitter dispute between Rome and Paris over the fate of the migrants on the Ocean Viking rescue ship, and says an EU migration policy won't happen without EU treaty change. "If we don't overcome national vetoes, be it on Covid, be it on energy, be it on migrants, we won't have European solutions. We will just keep dreaming of European solutions," she tells Armen Georgian. Bonino also touches on women's rights and what she has called the "reactionary social agenda" of the new coalition governing Italy.
Asked about the current crisis between Rome and Paris over migrants, Bonino refuses to single out France. "On this issue, no EU member state can pretend to have acted in a humane way. It’s not just France and Italy. Look around and take Poland, for instance. Take Orban, for instance. Even Austria, that threatened to close the Brenner pass. This is a dossier where nobody is perfect," she argues.
So is it unrealistic to imagine a real EU-wide solution to the migration issue? Bonino says: "What is needed, not only on migrants, but on many other dossiers, is to change the Lisbon treaty. If we don't overcome the veto prerogatives of member states, be it on Covid, be it on energy, be it on migrants, we won't have European solutions. We will just keep dreaming of European solutions."
Turning to EU investment in Italy, the biggest beneficiary of the post-Covid stimulus package, Bonino states that EU money is not being used effectively across the country. "On structural funds, for instance, the south of the country is not using them very much. In the north, they are much better. Emilia-Romagna used the last structural funds package by 85 percent. But if you go down to Reggio Calabria, it’s not even 30 percent. So this does put us in a strong negotiating position with the EU."
Bonino is a veteran of the struggle to have abortion legalised in Italy in the 1970s and she perceives a worrying trend under the new conservative governing coalition. "I don’t think they'll dare to openly change the law," she avers. "But they will be much more clever, by not applying parts of the law (Law 194). There are already regions where abortions are practically impossible because of mass objections of conscience by doctors. There are ways to empty the law even if, literally, it remains in place. People will move to other regions to have an abortion, or go abroad."
Produced by Johan Bodin, Perrine Desplats, Sophie Samaille et Isabelle Romero