In recent days, Italian newspaper Il Foglio has discussed a politicized version of the debate between “More Europe or Less Europe? More free market or more protectionism? “, quoting Salvini and Di Maio, the leaders of Northern League and Five Star Movement, respectively, as the promoters of a more protectionist view that puts national sovereignty at the centre. Il Foglio concludes that these ideas are dangerous and wrong because ‘this type of approach would lead to economic disadvantages for Italy, which should, instead, push for “More Europe and More Free Market” policies.
The topic is a serious one and deserves deeper considerations, beyond the political bias. Il Foglio fails to mention who, on the Italian political scene, is instead in favor of greater openness towards the world. I would immediately think of Calenda, Italian Ministry of Economic Development, but then I remember that it was him, rightly, to push for not granting China the status of market economic (MES), so as to leave the EU the possibility of imposing higher tariffs on goods imported from China, duties that could not have been so easily imposed if the EU had recognized the State of Market Economy to China. So, the action of Calenda makes me think that he too is not really so inclined to the free market.
The main arguments against the ‘Salvini-Di Maio’ twins, is a series of data, such as the success of Italian exports, which today reached 450 billion euros, of which two thirds to the countries of the Union and one tenth, 41 billion, coming from the agricultural sector. The emphasis is on the primary sector that grows, however, less than the total (6% against 7%) and therefore loses ground, but this important detail is left out from the analysis, for reasons that we will see in a moment.