BOLOGNA, Italy—It is easy to be deceived by Italy. The country that gave us the term “la dolce vita” knows how to live well. In this northern city, an intersection of Italy’s most remarkable achievements in industry, education, architecture and gastronomy, one could miss the undercurrents of crisis flowing across the nation’s landscape.
Like other countries in Europe, particularly those in the south, along the Mediterranean coast, Italy is living through a major economic contraction. On the surface, the drama is less visible than in places like Spain and Greece. Upon closer examination, however, one discovers that the Italian recession could have much more serious repercussions for the survival of the European project than any other country in the European Union.
In fact, Italy may well become the country that determines the fate of the EU.