Playing the chicken game: The conflict over Italy’s draft budget reveals a construction flaw in the EMU

The next period of nightlong European summits and standoffs between the European institutions and one of its member states is looming: Italy and the EU are at odds about its new budget proposal. This is a result of the setup of the Economic and Monetary Union, which will continue to produce such stalemates as long as dominant countries make common rules for their own sake and others try to circumvent them.

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The Italian Budget Drama – Brussels and Rome on Collision Course

The EU Commission has, for the first time, rejected a budget plan of a member state. While the Italian government drums its chest and the markets get increasingly nervous, the situation remains deadly serious. It is moreover deeply symptomatic of the potential, limits and fundamental shortcomings of the current architecture of Eurozone fiscal governance.

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The Italian President and the Security of the European Project

In a previous post, I have argued that the recent decision of the Italian President Mattarella to refuse to appoint as Finance Minister Paolo Savona, was constitutional. Many have argued either in favour or against Mattarella’s decision, either from legal or political perspective, or both. My argument is as follows: (a) the decision to refuse Savona’s appointment is not only legal, but also legitimate, as confirmed by the legal-historical context, in which the Italian form of government has developed; (b) the reasons behind Mattarella’s decision are deeply linked with the “security of the European project”, a rationale which has been a constant feature of European integration. Yet conflicts and contradictions have been concealed for too long and should be addressed more directly.

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A Crisis Made in Italy

The recent crisis surrounding the Italian President’s refusal to appoint a Finance Minister considered likely to pursue an agenda of ‘Italexit’ has sparked a great deal of constitutional commentary. Two particular threads of opinion are identified here and some doubts cast about them. On the one hand, there are those who consider legitimate the President’s discretionary use of power, partly in light of the pressure that would be brought to bear by the financial markets should Italy opt for exiting the single currency. On the other hand, there are those who doubt its wisdom, and offer a broader indictment of the pressure brought to bear on the Italian government as a result of being in an overly rigid Eurozone. This gets closer to diagnosing the condition, but in its ambiguity about the pressure point, fails to underscore that this is essentially a crisis made in Italy, and, if at all, to be resolved there, including a full and frank debate about membership of the single currency and even the European Union.

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Two Courts, two Languages? The Taricco Saga Ends on a Worrying Note

The epic story of the confrontation between the Italian Constitutional Court (ICC) and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that has become known under name Taricco has come to an end at last – somewhat different than expected, but nevertheless. On May 31 the ICC has handed down its final judgment. The hatchet between the Courts is buried. But the way it was done by the ICC is by no means conciliatory.

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The “Savona Affaire”: Over­constitutionali­zation in Action?

As is well known, Italy is undergoing an institutional crisis sparked by President Mattarella’s veto on the composition of the prospective Italian government. Following Dieter Grimm, we claim that the events here analysed reveal the extent to which the EU legal framework is overconstitutionalised and the democratic costs and risks inherent in this legal and political order.

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Why the Italian President’s Decision was Legitimate

The new Italian government is unlikely to find a majority in Parliament; it will probably be a short-term, neutral caretaker, until the new elections, which may take place as soon as next autumn. The impeachment procedure against the President – should it start at all – will end in nothing, although it might stir the electoral propaganda.

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The People vs. the Elite: Italian Dialectics and the European Malaise

Has the Italian President power of veto over the choice of the ministers of the government? Some argue that the Constitution does not allow Mattarella to go against the indications of the winning parties and should respect the will of the majority of the electorate, and should abstain from interfering with the political choices of the future Prime Minister. These considerations are not correct and follow from a superficial reading of the Constitution.

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State Secrecy in Counterterrorism: Different Judicial Standards of Review – The Abu Omar Case before Italian Courts

State secrecy provides an interesting viewpoint on national and supranational judicial review standards over counterterrorism measures, since it has frequently been invoked by advanced democracies in the fight against terrorism. Over the last years, the shield of secrecy has consistently concealed abuses perpetrated during intelligence operations, including the controversial practice of extraordinary renditions (ERs), carried […]

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