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Italy’s Salvini sees ‘China-gate’ in electric cars push

By Federica Pascale

June 21, 2023

“Nobody takes away from me the idea that there could be a 'China-gate' any time soon because some choices are either daughters of ignorance or convenience”, said the deputy prime minister and infrastructure minister. [EPA-EFE/FABIO FRUSTACI]

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and far-right Lega leader Matteo Salvini suspects illicit complicity between the EU, Germany and China in favour of electromobility and against the Italian car industry.

“Nobody takes away from me the idea that there could be a ‘China-gate’ any time soon because some choices are either daughters of ignorance or convenience”, said the deputy prime minister and infrastructure minister.

The statement was echoed by Italian MEP Anna Cinzia Bonfrisco (Lega/ID), who told EURACTIV that Brussels is giving away the entire European car industry to China in the name of the so-called “Timmermans doctrine”.

“It is legitimate to think that there is a will to renounce our industrial, technological and motoring innovation capacity in the name of a China that, moreover, is the biggest polluter in the world”, said Bonfrisco.

Besides the potential risk this could have on the European automotive industry, Bonfrisco denounces the serious violations of human rights committed in Xinjiang and Hong Kong by the Chinese Communist Party as well as in Taiwan, “a free and independent state over whose skies military exercises are carried out every day with a view to a future invasion”.

“This alone would be enough to make one wonder how we Europeans can accept closer political and trade relations [with China]”, Bonfrisco added.

Salvini called the ban on internal combustion cars by 2035 “a forced admission”, even though, in reality, the sale of cars with internal combustion engines will still be allowed but only if they are powered by synthetic fuels meaning they will be capable – according to the EU – of guaranteeing climate neutrality.

“I hope that the Timmermans-style ideology, i.e. Euro 7, is a folly that absolutely must be archived”, continued Salvini.

The Lega leader also accused the European Commission of pursuing an “anti-growth and anti-Italy ideological approach” on cars as it insists on wanting “all-electric” instead of a mix of technologies.

Complicit Germany

Salvini also hit out at Germany, saying it makes choices that benefit its economy at the cost of damaging others, particularly Italy’s.

“To say from 2035 ‘either electricity or nothing’ is something that probably suits someone”, Salvini said, explaining that he had read the data on the exchange between Germany and China suggesting that exports from Germany to China have decreased by 23% while imports from China to Germany have increased by 28%.

Bonfrisco pointed to the first foreign trip of the new Chinese premier Li Qiang, which is taking place these days, being Scholz’s Germany first, and then Macron’s France, “just a few months after the French president’s walk in Tiananmen Square where Chinese students sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom”.

“We should react to the pervasiveness in Europe of economic actors controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, as often stressed by the European Parliament, starting with protecting our ports and maritime transport”, Bonfrisco told EURACTIV.

“An answer is due to European citizens as to why the EU implements policies that have more to do with industrial scrapping than with ecological transition. Sustainability is, first and foremost, social in Europe and the world. On this, too, the era of the equidistance of Merkel’s Germany is over, and Scholz’s is just a bad copy of it”, the MEP added.

Last March, during the election campaign for the regional elections, Salvini had already attacked the EU, arguing that imposing electric cars on everyone makes no sense.

“Europe, which wants to protect the environment, cannot bind us hand and foot to the Chinese […] Since they found someone in the EU Parliament – coincidentally from the left – who had suitcases full of cash [Qatargate], who knows if, in a while, they won’t also find suitcases full of cash coming from China to vote for certain laws that are anti-Italian, anti-European and only favour the giant overseas (China)”, Salvini said.

(Federica Pascale |


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