Italy in the European Crisis: problems and prospects

11 September 2012

Mario Monti and the current Italian Prime Minister.
"Mario Monti, (left) the current Italian Prime Minister."

In tonight's Sydney Ideas lecture Professor Paul Ginsborg, chair of Contemporary European History at the University of Florence, looks at the historical roots of Italy's troubled membership of the European Union.

As the European Union's crisis continues evolving it is important to analyse each member state's contribution to the crisis, particularly that of the larger states.

Italy occupies a special role. It was one of the founding members of Common Market in 1957, and its economy remains one of the Union's largest. Yet it has never played a role in Europe's politics corresponding to its economic weight, and all too often has simply toed a line dictated by the Franco-German axis.

Historically speaking there are at least two major reasons for this. One is the poor quality of Italy's ruling political elite (which, with few exceptions, has been intensely inward-looking and often corrupt). The other is the Italian public administration's failings, which has for many years led Italy to commit the most infringements of European law and to suffer the longest delays putting European decisions into practice.

The low-point of Italy's presence in Europe came with the governments of Silvio Berlusconi - in particular Berlusconi's own performance at the European parliament in July, 2003.

More recently Mario Monti replaced him as the head of government, and Mario Draghi has become the Central European Bank president. Are the two Marios, both highly professional economic experts, capable of ushering in a new era in Italy's relations with Europe?

Paul Ginsborg is a leading authority on contemporary Italy. He taught European politics at Cambridge University before moving to Italy in 1992 to take up the chair of Contemporary European History at the University of Florence. Among his many works is a biography of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (2003), which reached the top of the Italian non-fiction bestseller charts, the Politics of Everyday Life (2005) and Italy and Its Discontents: Family, Civil Society, State (2006). In recent years he has been at the forefront of Italian civil society's mobilisation in defence of democracy.

Event details

What: Italy in the European Crisis: problems and prospects, a Sydney Ideas lecture, co-presented with the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at the University of Sydney

When: 6pm, Tuesday 11 September

Where: Foyer, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. see map and directions

Cost: Free and open to all, with no ticket or booking required. Seating is unreserved and entry is on a first come, first served basis

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Contact: Kath Kenny

Phone: 0478 303 173, 02 9351 1584

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