Josef Janning, the head researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations in Berlin, admitted the outcome of the Italian election has undoubtedly weakened the bloc.
In an interview to Italian press agency Dire, Mr Janning spoke about the affirmation of “anti-system forces” in Europe.
Arguing that they have been able to read the “deep frustration” of voters throughout the continent, he believes that populist parties in the EU are giving “back to these countries the sovereignty that has been taken away from them”.
According to the expert, anti-bloc forces across the continent – from the right-wing Hungarian party Fidesz to the German MPs of Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) – are united by the mantra that “the EU is evil”.
He said: “Eurosceptic rightwing parties are celebrating, and rightly so, because their friends from Lega and the Five Star Movement have won an absolute majority in Parliament.”
Italian populist parties came out as the real election winners, with eurosceptic Five Star gaining more than 31 percent of the votes and Matteo Salvini’s anti-immigration Lega party gathering more than 17 percent of the votes, winning the leadership of the centre-right wing coalition.
Mr Janning said that this results implies that Italy, one of the founding members of the EU, is moving away from the federalist policies adopted by some of the bloc’s other influential members.
He said: “Italy has historically been one of the most favourable countries for European integration.
“After the Brexit referendum many people had hoped the country could emerge as a third continental force.
“In general, with Five Star and Lega being so strong, the Italian government will only be able to be more Euro-skeptical than it was at the time of the first Berlusconi government.”
The expert argues that Italy could have become “a key country for the European Union” after Brexit, but today is “the sick man of Europe, slowly retreating from the vanguard of advancing integration” since early 2000s, which makes it “closer to Budapest and Visegrad than to Brussels”.
Both Lega and Five Star has complained in the past that Italians felt snubbed by European autocrats.
Luigi Di Maio, political leader of the Five Star, said that his party wants Italy “to be listened” by the EU on issues that are “hurting” Italy, threatening the EU to otherwise promote an alliance between southern European states or even to pull out from the eurozone.
Source : EXPRESS