Left MEPs have warned of the destructive path Italy is heading towards as they debated with the country’s Prime Minister in the Strasbourg plenary on Tuesday night.

Giuseppe Conte was taking part in the ‘Future of Europe’ debate and was met with a cool reception by MEPs, who deplored his coalition government’s poor record on reining in the rise of far-right as well as anti-migration policies.

Speaking first for GUE/NGL, MEP Eleonora Forenza warned that unless it changes course, the current situation in Italy could also have a detrimental effect on the future of Europe:

“There are currently two options facing Europe right now – both are interconnected and equally destructive. One is the continuation of neoliberal politics. Second is the rise of the far-right.”

“However, my group and I are working on a third way – an alternative to both the Conte government and this Europe – founded on the self-determination of women, men and the people.”

Forenza, who along with her assistant were badly beaten by members of the far-right CasaPound in Bari last September, then turned to the rise of neo-fascism and its links with Conte’s deputy, Matteo Salvini:

“The European Parliament has asked member states to ban neo-fascist and neo-Nazi organisations. But how does Prime Minister Conte explain the relationship between Matteo Salvini and the openly-fascist party, CasaPound? It is the Conte government’s policies and Salvini’s words which have fanned the flame for far-right organisations and their increasing violence!”

“The Italian government is waging a war against migrants. They aren’t even considered humans anymore. This government let people drown at sea, tortured in Libya and locked up in camps for illegal migrants in Italy. And the far-right Lega party didn’t even vote in favour of a reform of the Dublin regulation! This kind of politics is not fit for a civilised nation!” she concluded.

Meanwhile, Barbara Spinelli MEP is pessimistic about the future prospects of Italy, citing years of austerity and far-right movements:

“Let’s not forget that Italy is experiencing a formidable social crisis and a recession, which are not so much the consequences of specific choices made by Conte’s government but the result of a lost decade – characterised by austerity policies and the failure of the traditional left and centre-right parties,” she said.

“The country has for years been a de facto EU-supervised administration. The present government coalition is imploding, and the prospect is bleak. In case of an anticipated election, the extreme right of Salvini will coalesce with even more rightist forces and get rid of the Five Star movement – considered as a leftist obstacle to his power. The migration policies I strongly reject would be even worse,” she concluded.