China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. As an economy undergoing transformation, special trade rules were negotiated and agreed with China to safeguard the interests of the existing WTO membership. Article 15 of China’s WTO Accession Protocol sets out that modified rules for imposing anti-dumping tariffs (less favorable to China) will apply for a period of fifteen years from the accession date. This period expired on 11 December 2016 and since then the interpretation of the provisions in Article 15 of the Accession Protocol has become a bone of contention. The dispute over granting China market economy status (MES), which is associated with the expiry of the special conditions in Article 15 of the Accession Protocol, affects directly the legal basis of EU’s trade (defense) policy towards China.
On 1 February 2017, shortly after the fifteenth anniversary of China’s WTO membership, during a meeting of the Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies, 734th Meeting, XVII Legislature), Mr. Raffaello Vignali, a member of the Italian Parliament, posed an interpellation to the Ministro dello Sviluppo Economico (Minister of Economic Development), Mr. Carlo Calenda, regarding the issue of granting China MES – which would potentially weaken the competitiveness of Italian companies – and the initiatives undertaken at the European Union (EU) level to achieve a balanced solution.
On 6 December 2017, the United States (US) President, Mr. Donald Trump, put into effect his presidential campaign promise to effectively recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thereby indicating a future move there for the US embassy from Tel Aviv. Such a decision has been interpreted by many as marking a turning point in the US approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Indeed, even though the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act adopted by the US Senate and House of Representatives committed the Federal Government to moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, since its enactment every US President has regularly availed himself of the possibility to invoke a six-month waiver of the application of the law. President Trump himself signed such a waiver twice, before (June 2017) as well as after (December 2017) his own declaration. Nonetheless, his announcement sparked controversy and many countries voiced their dissent. Italy is among those States and its stance will be discussed below. However, in order better to understand the dissent it expressed along with a number of other countries, it is useful to provide a factual and legal context, starting with Mr. Trump’s actual words.
In his speech, Mr. Trump motivated his decision as follows:
Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. […] But today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.
SENATE OF THE REPUBLIC, XVII LEGISLATURE, 336th MEETING, 22 OCTOBER 2014.
On 22 October 2014, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mr. Matteo Renzi, outlined before the Senate the position of Italy on the topics to be discussed at the European Council of 23-24 October 2014, i.e. the new climate and energy policy framework, the economic situation in the EU and other external relation issues in the light of the developments on the international scene.
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 310th MEETING, 15 OCTOBER 2014.
On 15 October 2014, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Federica Mogherini, explained to the Chamber of Deputies the reasons behind the adoption of the sanctions against the Russian Federation. The Minister emphasised the need to introduce restrictive measures, but also left the door open to their renegotiation in the case that Moscow adopted a more constructive approach. She said that:
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, VIII LEGISLATURE, COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 2 SEPTEMBER 2014.
On 2 September 2014, the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Federica Mogherini, delivered a speech before the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament concerning the conclusions of the last Gymnich and the priorities of the Italian Presidency of the EU. She focused the attention on some of the key topics, such as the threat coming from ISIS, the conflicts in the areas of Syria, Iraq and Gaza and the need to tackle those problems by means of a regional approach. As to the issue concerning Ukraine and Russia, after recalling the Council conclusions that envisage a new package of sanctions, she said:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 274th MEETING, 29 JULY 2014.
On 29 July 2014, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, delivered a speech before the plenary session of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament on the conflict between Hamas and Israel. After expressing sorrow, on behalf of the Italian Government and people, for the casualties suffered on both sides, she highlighted the complexity of the conflict. Thus, to avoid any oversimplification, she briefly illustrated the political context of the whole region, showing how much the situations of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon and Jordan are interrelated. Then, referring to the end of the “Skyes-Picot order”, she called all the Middle-Eastern actors to assume direct and shared responsibility in the regional politics, together with Italy and Europe. Pointing out that the conflict cannot be examined through biased eyes, and that the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians – respectively, to live in peace and security and to have a sovereign State – are legitimate, she added:
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL, 21st SPECIAL SESSION, HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN THE OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY, INCLUDING EAST JERUSALEM, 23 JULY 2014.
On 23 July 2014, the Permanent Representative of Italy at the Human Rights Council, Amb. Maurizio Enrico Serra, expressed the position of the EU with respect to the Human Rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The statement took place in the context of a debate on Israel’s military operation ‘Protective Edge’, which has started on 7 July 2014 in the Gaza Strip, and on the escalation of rocket fire against Israel. At the outset, Amb. Serra specified that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Iceland, Serbia, Albania and Liechtenstein aligned themselves with his statement.