Italy in the EU after Brexit: carrying through or taking a bet?
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This article explores the possible repercussions of Brexit upon Italian foreign policy. Whilst Italy has not modified its foreign policy fundamentally following the result of the 2016 referendum on Brexit, we argue that Brexit has, however, led to a change in the European balance of power. This has exposed Italian foreign policy, which has had to adjust accordingly. Successive Italian governments, from Matteo Renzi’s to Giuseppe Conte’s first cabinet, have had to rethink, design and implement a new role for Italy among the EU top countries. They had to do so as they faced the common prospect of losing an ally such as the UK, which has often proved instrumental in counterbalancing continental European powers. Nevertheless, we observe that the ruling coalitions differed in their response to Brexit. We argue that a neoclassical realist approach aides in understanding the way in which the Italian response to Brexit has been influenced by two key factors: the need to preserve Italy’s status in the European balance of power and the governing coalitions’ commitment to delivering their electoral promises. The result is that Italian governments pursued a different approach to Italian foreign policy after Brexit, and the implications are discussed.
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