Italy's far-right leader woos EU chiefs on first trip to Brussels

AFP - VALERIA MONGELLI

Newly elected Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with European Union leaders in Brussels on Friday in a visit intended to reassure Italy’s partners following last month’s far-right election victory.

Meloni was to meet three of the EU’s top figures including EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, European Parliament speaker Roberta Metsola and European Council President Charles Michel.

Posting on social media ahead of today's visit, Meloni wrote: “Italy’s voice in Europe will be strong: we are ready to tackle the big issues, starting with the energy crisis, working together on a solution to support families and businesses and curb speculation."

Strategic visit

The choice of Brussels for her first overseas trip since taking office two weeks ago is a strategic one.

Meloni and her nationalist Brothers of Italy party have been critical of EU powers in the past, while her populist coalition ally the League once floated the idea of an “Italexit” – withdrawing from the bloc altogether.

Yet while Euroscepticism plays well with some Italian voters, Meloni’s government – which also includes Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party – knows it is dependent on EU support to fund campaign promises to tackle the country’s economic woes, most urgently soaring energy bills.