With attention focused on Brexit foolishness and confusion in Europe’s north, Chinese President Xi Jinping is quietly visiting Italy, the largest economy in Europe’s south. The Italians are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding to join China’s so-called Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, and a look back the past few years tells you why.
Italy is, of course, a core EU member state (the EU’s founding document is the Treaty of Rome, after all). There was a time in the recent past when funding strategic infrastructure to facilitate the movement of people and goods into and around the EU free trade zone — promoting growth — was something Brussels would do. In southern Europe, however, Brussels has done the exact opposite.