Populist leaders from Italy and Poland tackle ‘French-German axis’

by WorldTribune Staff, January 10, 2019

Italy and Poland are set to spark a “European spring” in which anti-immigration populists will look to take down the “French-German axis” in May’s European Union parliamentary elections, Italy’s interior minister said on Jan. 9.

Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini and his Polish counterpart Joachim Brudzinski at a Jan. 9 press conference in Warsaw.

“We are preparing a new equilibrium and new energy in Europe and Poland and Italy, absolutely, will lead this new European spring,” said Matteo Salvini. “We have a new plan for Europe” intended to replace the dominant “French-German axis.”

Salvini was speaking in Warsaw following talks with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the powerful leader of Poland’s governing right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Salvini’s anti-immigration League party has ruled in a coalition with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement since a general election in Italy last March.

“I’d like to create a pact, an alliance for everyone who wants to save Europe, the more of us, the better,” Salvini said, adding that his party would draw up a 10-point plan to present to other EU countries.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but the goal is to become the second largest movement, maybe the first…in the next European Parliament elections,” Salvini said.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his government shared many of Salvini’s criticisms of the EU, and he accused Brussels of discriminating against some countries.

“Different member states are treated quite differently in very similar situations, so this is probably a definition of discrimination, isn’t it?” Morawiecki told U.S. broadcaster CNBC.

“One country has a budget deficit of 2.4 percent (Italy) and another country has a deficit exceeding 3 percent (France)… and they are treated differently because of some other aspects,” he said.

“There should not be this different treatment by Brussels,” Morawiecki said. “So with Mr. Salvini we are on the same page with regards to many European matters.”

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