Italian parliament backs EastMed pipeline
07:59 - 26 May 2023
The Italian Lower House’s Foreign Affairs Committee has called on the government to work with the countries involved in the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline project (EastMed) to assess its development prospects.
According to the Italian media, the Committee has approved a resolution, filed by Deputy President Paolo Formentini, committing the government “to continue the appropriate dialogue with the countries involved in the EastMed project” to “assess its development, with a view on diversifying energy supply sources, on the basis of the international geopolitical context and the conditions of technical and economic feasibility”.
The text also requires the executive to “pay the greatest possible attention to the integration processes taking place in the Eastern Mediterranean, a crucial region for national energy supplies and global political-strategic balances”.
MPs from all parties in the right-wing governing coalition and the so-called Third Pole, a centrist federation, voted in favour. The two main opposition parties – Democratic Party and Five Star Movement – abstained, while the Greens and Left Alliance voted against. The ball is now in the government’s court.
The resolution said the pipeline would allow Rome to “recalibrate energy supply choices” in light of Rome’s diversification away from Russian gas. Libya, another gas supplier, remains “very unstable and far from complete pacification,” while more moderate contacts between Turkey and Israel will hopefully “prelude to a sharper de-escalation” even between Ankara and Athens.
The Eastmed project “is also proposed as a strategic corridor useful to promote the renewable potential of the Eastern Mediterranean region through the transport of green gases such as hydrogen,” it added.
The EastMed is an EU-backed offshore/onshore natural gas pipeline that would directly connect East Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete. It initially had the support of the USA, which however withdrew saying the project was not viable.
Addressing the same committee last week, ENI CEO Claudio Desclazi said any agreement for the construction of the pipeline must include Turkey.
“It is inconceivable that Israel, Cyprus, and Greece can move forward on an agreement without the participation of Turkey,” he said. “There are disputes between Turkey and Cyprus that are difficult to remedy, furthermore Turkey has made an agreement with Libya to define a very vast platform that covers almost the entire EastMed, therefore not only Turkey but also Libya will have a say.”
Cyprus’ government has said that though Descalzi’s views are respected, they are not shared by everyone.