On the 18th of October, President Barack Obama met the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in Washington. The meeting started with a ceremony at the White House and a public speech of both leaders. After that, Obama hosted Renzi and other important Italian personalities for the last state dinner at the White House.
The two leaders strengthened their alliance and cooperation. Italy has been in Europe one of the major supporters of the free trade agreements proposed by the US and Canada, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment partnership (TTIP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). In exchange, the U.S. has supported the Italian position on the migratory crisis, arguing that EU countries should share responsibilities.
Moreover, Obama expressed its support to Italian reforms and criticized the economic policies of austerity undertaken by the EU institutions. The US President argued that the expansive economic measures adopted by his country in response to the crisis of 2007 were successfully implemented and the US recovered from the crisis. Conversely, the restrictive economic measures carried out by the EU authorities led to a long economic recession and social problems such as unemployment. In addition to that, Obama warned EU about the fact that the long economic crisis as well as the high level of unemployment have created the conditions for the birth of populism in many countries.
Undoubtedly, the US considers Italy as an important member of NATO alliance and a privileged interlocutor in the EU. Renzi, in his speech, assured the commitment of Italy in supporting the international coalition fighting in the Middle East against ISIS. Italy also allowed the U.S. to use Italian military bases to carry out air strikes in Libya, and few days ago the government accepted to participate to a NATO force in Eastern Europe.
Finally, it is also important to remark that the meeting took place approximately two months before the Italian constitutional referendum promoted by Matteo Renzi. As regards the referendum scheduled for the 4th of December, President Obama expressed his support for the constitutional reforms, as the US Ambassador in Italy did before him. On the one hand this support from the US strengthened the credibility of Renzi’s government on the international stage, but on the other hand the official stance of the US on the Italian referendum provoked criticism in Italy. In fact, many political parties against the constitutional reform defined the U.S. position as an interference in the domestic jurisdiction of a sovereign state.