Aurelio Insisa, senior Asia fellow, Global Actors Programme, IAI
Jana Puglierin, head, ECFR Berlin and senior policy fellow, ECFR
Alessandro Speciale, Switzerland bureau chief, Bloomberg
Italy’s leaders are confronting a decision about whether to withdraw from a memorandum of understanding with China on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) before its automatic renewal early next year. After breaking ties with Russia following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, this would constitute the second major reversal in Italian foreign policy in less than 24 months.
When Italy signed the memorandum in 2019, facing strong criticism from both the European Union and the United States, it became the first and only G7 country to join China’s BRI.
How has Italy benefitted from the memorandum? What are the respective costs and consequences of withdrawal and extension? And how does the EU’s evolving approach to China impact Italy’s – and vice versa?
This debate is organised by ECFR and IAI, in collaboration with the Guarini Institute for Public Affairs, John Cabot University. It is part of ECFR’s Re:shape Global Europe project, supported by Stiftung Mercator.