The Economist reports that Donald Trump is always unpredictable. But guessing how he will react to Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, at the White House today, is particularly tricky. Mr Conte heads a government that shares many of Mr Trump’s views.
The coalition between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the hard-right League is protectionist and opposes sanctions on Russia. As the White House noted when it announced Mr Conte’s visit, Italian troops serve alongside America’s in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Italy’s spending on defence, at 1.15% of GDP, is way below NATO’s 2% benchmark, which Mr Trump is demanding his allies should respect.
Worse, Mr Conte’s foreign minister, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, said last week that defence spending would fall slightly in 2019. Italian officials often argue that the statistics do not reflect the work Italy does rescuing immigrants in the Mediterranean. That is unlikely to impress Mr Trump.
CNN also reports that Europe’s political establishment will have all eyes Monday on the meeting in Washington DC between Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and US President Donald Trump.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron — no big fans of the US administration — are bound to hold their breath in fear that Italy might lend Trump a hand in further destabilising the European Union, already torn by contrasts between member states and facing a deadlock in its integration process.
And they do have cause for concern. Conte is turning out to be Trump’s main supporter and ally in Europe.
According to TGCOM24 the agenda will focus also on how Italy and the US will be spearheading the control of the anti-terrorism activities in the Mediterranean, security and migration, specifically in relation to the issue of Libya as a point of departure.