The governmental crisis in Italy will not stop it from turning up for the G7 summit, Michele Geraci said.
“I do not think it can affect [G7 attendance] at all, we will participate in the summit. It is common that sometimes during big international summits some of the participants may have their own internal issues. Long-term issues, however, are on the table and do not depend on temporary crisis,” Geraci said.
Italy wants to focus on Brexit and global trade order at the summit, the official said. It will be held in the southwestern French town of Biarritz from August 24-26.
“We have a number of priority topics — for example, Brexit is one of the important ones, because we need to raise at the European level this trade issue and wider, on a more global basis, the trade tensions, and try to re-establish order in the WTO,” he said.
Geraci said he had discussed some of these issues at the G20 in Argentina last year and during this year’s G20 ministerial on trade and digital economy in Japan.
“I think now it is another opportunity within a closer group to try to agree on what should be the new order of trade. Because this has always been a hot topic for the last two years, with a limited progress,” he added.
Geraci admitted that he had always had doubts about the United Kingdom breaking away from the European Union. He said Italy wanted to know how London planned to resolve the Irish border issue, arguably a far more contentious problem than the future of the UK-EU trade or freedom of movement.
“The UK alone cannot leave the European Union while Ireland stays … So either Ireland and the UK both leave, which is obviously not the case, or the UK does not leave, or the UK leaves, and there will be a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and this is not acceptable. So we want to know what is endangered and what the UK has to propose on the Ireland issue,” he said.
Italy’s shaky coalition collapsed on Tuesday after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte quit citing differences between the right-wing League and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. The League leader and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, has been calling for a snap election.
Another topic that Italy wants to raise at the summit is the 5G high-speed Internet network. Italy has allowed China’s technology giant Huawei to participate in the project, resisting pressure from the United States which has been warning EU nations of potential spying by China, despite no evidence.
Geraci said that the 5G technology was important — but so was an informed assessment of threats and opportunities it came with. He said it was therefore important to have discussions on the topic and “bring facts in the center of the analysis” because “decisions of individual states will affect others.”