04:04 GMT18 February 2020
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    Italy’s right-wing Lega remains the most popular party in the country despite the coalition government collapsing after M5S deserted them in August 2019.

    Even though the current government is led by the coalition of Democratic Party (PD) and 5-Star-Movement (M5S), Lega’s nationwide ratings are near 30%, which is significantly more than individual ratings of its opponents.

    Lega's initiatives, such as protecting the country’s small and medium companies from latest EU regulation initiatives such as the introduction of NutriScore ratings, which Matteo Salvini's party considers a "fundamental attack on Made in Italy products", are currently making the headlines in Rome, as well as in Brussels.

    Lega’s MEP Isabella Tovaglieri shared with Sputnik her views on the party’s agenda, on the economic situation within the EU and on the lessons of BREXIT.

    Sputnik: You represent several constituencies - Lombardy, Aosta Valley, Liguria. Judging by your Instagram, you’re very proud of bringing locally made produce to Brussels to show what Italy has to offer. What are these things that make you proud of these regions?

    Isabella Tovaglieri: First of all, I am proud to represent the great Lombardy which is one of the locomotives of Europe but also the whole constituency of the North West, which is amazing because it includes all the most beautiful things our country has, combined with economic competitiveness and a productive force that has no equals. So I find it difficult to say which thing I like the most.

    As for the Val d'Aosta, it has the best Mont Blanc resorts in Europe, these is a ski area of excellence, we certainly also have a strong position in dairy production which makes, Val d'Aosta, however small, famous throughout the world.

    In Piedmont we have truffles, we have important wine production and in Liguria we have a wide range of naturalistic beauties. But what I appreciate most about Liguria is that how it can make the most of the situation, even though it is a very difficult region. For example, the terrace cultivation is renowned all over the world because despite having a very steep territory with a very impervious soil, they still manage to have a great agricultural production.

    Then Lombardy is obviously the fil rouge of all these four regions, it has a very strong cultural identity, therefore the great attachment to traditions, to ability to value local cultures. However Milan is also the home of the avant-garde of modernity, of always being one step ahead and anticipating times and trends which is a magnificent contrast between tradition and innovation. Then Milan is also the capital of fashion. But despite the injection of modernity, it always comes back to the traditions. All these characteristics make it very understandable why I can be so proud to be elected in the constituency of the North West.

    Sputnik: Your party was among euro skeptics for a while. How do your voters feel about the EU in general and its key policies: immigration, economy, rule of Brussels, for example?

    Isabella Tovaglieri: Frankly, I don’t like the term “Eurosceptic” because it has a negative meaning. For example, within my party I define myself as one of the most pro-European members, perhaps also because of a different situation, when I entered politics and began to work, the EU was taken for granted and was something concrete. However, I am highly convinced that Europe could give many opportunities but under different conditions. In my opinion Europe must be changed from the inside. Because the game is played from the inside.

    It is also true that there have been other important countries such as the United Kingdom that are not satisfied with the responses they have received to their cry of alarm and dissatisfaction and therefore the UK has decided to adopt the most drastic solution - to leave. The EU can no longer continue, if it does not want to lose further important pieces, not to take positions on important problems, not to give concrete answers on what the member countries are asking for. In Italy we have a very important migration problem and we are very disappointed by the migration management by the EU, we are very disappointed by the lack of willingness of the other member states to take on a problem that cannot be only of Italy just because of its geographical position.

    ​The EU can no longer pretend that the process of Islamization is not, I am not saying at the door, it is already inside the EU, and therefore we need to monitor the radical trends that are now developing, we have Islamic parties that have representatives within local institutions, however, we cannot have parties that also have extreme ideologies that are profoundly in contrast with what are the fundamental principles of the European treaties and the fundamental principles on which the constitutions of our member states are based. So if we want to continue with a peaceful social and political coexistence it would be great if we also started to pay attention to these problems.

    ​As for the economy, I must say that the EU has recently issued two measures affecting to Italy, in particular one, which can be considered a real boycott against the Italian economy. I am referring to NutriScore which is obviously a fundamental attack on our Made in Italy products. We have the Mediterranean diet which is considered a UNESCO heritage, and the main foods that make up the Mediterranean diet which are considered harmful by the EU and get branded with the red label as unhealthy for the health of consumers. On the other hand we have Coca Cola. Well, we wish all the best to the Coca Cola company, it is a pity that it must relocate its factories from Sicily to Albania due to the wicked policies of the current government, however we cannot hide the fact that if we have to look at the wholesomeness of the products, Italian products are recognized throughout the world as an excellence. From a health and safety point of view, Coca Cola is less healthy than Parmesan. So we have measures that are absolutely absurd that destroy our economy and above all are not based on objectivity, criteria and research.

    ​As for the New Green Deal, it is certainly now very fashionable to talk about green, however, it must be done seriously and the funds made available by Europe for the transition are absolutely insufficient regarding the ambitious goals that we propose. Creating goals without resources means actually putting the production systems of the member countries in difficulty, especially in countries like Italy which is in the first place in Europe regarding the production of disposable plastic and therefore putting it out of use means in fact to deprive us completely from the fundamental sector of our market.

    Sputnik: Great Britain recently left the EU. What lessons does Europe and Italy have to learn from Brexit?

    Isabella Tovaglieri: I think that the EU has not yet understood the lesson, because if it had understood the lesson, it would never have allowed the United Kingdom to abandon Europe. It is now too late and the British decision is irreversible. In fact, over the years they gave several alarm signals that have not been caught. I hope that this first loss will not create a domino effect that would disrupt Europe, because in this case all the member states would have great losses from a commercial and economic point of view. We all know well the advantages of the single market and Italy also being is an exporting country appreciates the advantages of the single market. But if Europe wants to avoid the domino effect, it must start giving concrete answers starting from Italy which, in my opinion, is the most sacrificed country in the geopolitical picture of Europe compared to the countries like Germany or France. And so I believe that for the well-being of Europe itself, of the Union itself, the EU must start taking steps towards important countries such as Italy.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik

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