By George Friedman
Aug. 24, 2016
The EU leaders tried to project unity, despite Italy’s economic malaise.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi met yesterday on the Italian aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi. The announced purpose was to discuss European policy after Brexit. The real discussion was about Italy’s economy and the steps needed to revive it after a long period of stagnation, which continued through last quarter.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, flanked by German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and French President Francois Hollande (L), gestures as he delivers a speech on Aug. 22, 2016 during a joint press conference held aboard the Garibaldi aircraft carrier on the harbor of the Italian island Ventotene.
Before getting to the economic discussion, it is interesting that they chose to have the meeting on an Italian aircraft carrier – a more military location than Europeans normally prefer. The choice is even more interesting after a leak to German media suggested that Germany is considering resuming the military draft. The United States, and not only Donald Trump, has been increasingly critical of Europeans’ contribution to NATO. The European Union’s GDP is larger than that of the United States, but their collective contribution to their own defense is a fraction of the United States’. In addition, the limited capabilities of Europe’s militaries make the Europeans dependent on the Americans, so nations with significant security issues must accommodate the U.S., reducing Europe’s coherence.