As in life, so in politics, great love must be preserved and cultivated: every marriage needs maintenance. This simple thought has often crossed my mind as I reflect on the special development of relations between the United States and Europe, which for centuries have united as father and son. A relationship in which the role of the father remained reserved for Europe for a long time, but it was reversed with the two world wars, as it was America that helped the old continent, helping it initially to save itself and then to grow stronger and stronger. One can, of course, hope that an equal relationship eventually emerges, but sibling dynamics are usually more complex than parent-child relationships. There are always those who want to be the big brother.
In my not too short experience, I have had occasion to observe the complexity of these relations in the policies of various American Presidents and have recognized the need to practice careful maintenance so that these relations do not deteriorate excessively. If I go back to my immediate memories, I think of the presidents who belong to the Bush family (I mean father and son together), there were political differences between us and therefore also decisions that were not shared, but they were still discussions in which we all consider ourselves members of the same family.
Then came Clinton, who was not born with a special relationship with Europe, but then created it as a result of his political sensitivity and cultural development. Then came Obama, a president of great prestige to be sure, but for him, in his worldview, Rome and Singapore were the same thing. He was followed by Trump who only saw Europe as an adversary (if not almost an enemy), both politically and economically. Finally, for two years we have had Joe Biden, an American president who is very concerned about rebuilding political and military relations with Europe, but little concerned about the gradual deterioration of economic relations between the old continent and the new one.
The war in Ukraine changes the situation even more. With the consolidation and expansion of NATO, political solidarity between the United States and Europe has in fact become closer, even if the American role has been largely dominant due to European divisions and suspicions. In the economic field, on the other hand, the distance is greater than ever. The difference highlighted by the media relates, of course, to the price of gas, the source of life for many industrial sectors. The difference between American and European prices is very bad. It is true that the United States has increased its gas supplies to Europe, but it is clear that it has reached a price level five times higher than that of American companies. There is nothing to object to as this is the market, but many note that nothing has been done to mitigate the effects, hence the discomfort that all of this is causing. The same feeling concerns sanctions against Russia, which is a logical and necessary measure, but which affects almost exclusively our producers. If these two sources of malaise result from the objective diversity between the United States and Europe in the availability of natural resources or in the nature of traditional relations with Russia, a much stronger tension arises as a result of a specific American decision to support nationalism. New corporate sectors (such as electric cars, batteries, electronic components, etc.) with a huge amount of public subsidies.
The US decision, christened as an innocent anti-inflationary measure (actually called the Inflation Reduction Act, better known by the acronym IRA) provides for a $365 billion subsidy for US companies, more than ten times the maximum public aid allowed for European companies today. . The negative reaction from European energy-intensive companies, from our companies operating in the most supportive sectors, from the majority of our governments and from a growing part of public opinion, is widespread and growing. In fact, no company can handle disparities of this level, which make European competition impossible and already direct all the new investment intentions of the sectors concerned towards the United States.
To avoid these consequences, it will become almost inevitable to adopt a new European policy, dedicated to increasing government aid, thus opening a process that would deepen the economic conflict between the United States and Europe, with great damage to both sides. A struggle that will also spill over between the European countries themselves, which have very different economic and financial characteristics. Indeed, the Italian public resources could not be compared with the German ones.
It is clear that economic differences of this magnitude can only produce greater distances also in the political field: the possibility of an escalation of discord between brothers.
To this deeply disturbing picture I would like to add, as a simple Italian citizen, a note addressed to President Biden. In other words, I would like to point out that, almost two years into his tenure, he did not mention the name of the American ambassador to Italy. This is an anomaly not only between sister countries, but also between sister countries. I understand, among other things, that while the seat at Rome remains vacant today, the American Ambassador to Singapore has been duly installed for about a year and a half.
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