Italy’s Finance Minister: Brexit Because People See Europe Not as Solution but ‘as Part of the Problem’

Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan attends an economic and financial affairs council (ECOFIN) at the European Council in Brussels, March 10, 2015. AFP PHOTO / EMMANUEL DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

In the wake of Brexit, Italy’s finance minister has offered a bleak evaluation of the state of his own country, suggesting that Italians are fed up with the status quo and the European Union (EU) itself may be crumbling.

“We have to think the unthinkable,” said Pier Carlo Padoan (pictured) in an interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Friday. “We have a cocktail of factors that could lead to different outcomes, including a further push toward disintegration.”

Among the ingredients in that “cocktail,” the finance minister sees a growing sense that the European Union is leaving citizens behind on the issues that matter most.

“There is a profound dissatisfaction over immigration, security and the economy,” he said. “Employment and growth are improving, but not fast enough.”

“And there is the tendency to think that national solutions work better than European ones,” he said.

Specifically, the finance minister noted that “voices are being raised in the Netherlands and other countries in the north, as well as that of Marine Le Pen of course in France, who are asking for referendums to leave Europe.”

Asked what issues most disturb Italians, Padoan placed Europe’s migrant crisis in the first place, followed by national security and a fight against inequality.

Regarding how the Brexit vote could have taken everyone by surprise, Padoan suggested that people have been blind to the level of discontent among Europeans everywhere.

“The outcome of the referendum was unforeseen only to those who are unable to see the discontent, the social malaise, and the idea held by many citizens that Europe is not the solution but part of the problem,” he said.

According to the finance minister, the referendum was a vote “against this entity that is called Europe, which is perceived in some countries as the source of restrictions rather than opportunities.”

Padoan also suggested that social unrest in Italy may be on the increase, among other things because the economic situation may be getting worse rather than better, and growth may decrease.

“I hope not,” he said, “but it may be the case.”

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