A steadily increasing number of European countries recently adopted their own 'Africa policies'. The temporal and geographical clustering of such plans suggests that a policy diffusion process might have been at play, with the introduction and the shape of a policy in a given country being influenced by those of other countries. This paper tests the policy diffusion hypothesis through an in-depth analysis of the case of Italy, a country that in recent times stepped up substantially its engagement with sub-Saharan Africa. Tracing the origins and features of Rome's policy towards the region, however, shows that external influences were much more limited than expected. It was primarily two country-specific drivers - namely, the enduring effects of the European debt crisis on the Italian economy and a sudden and massive, if temporary, increase in irregular migration - which pushed Italy towards Africa and shaped its approach. The paper thus sheds light on how the marked resemblance of policies almost contemporaneously adopted by distinct EU member states - that is, a tight succession and a highly interconnected environment strongly pointing at cross-country influences - can hide motives and processes that are actually highly specific to each of them and essentially by-pass policy diffusion dynamics.

Italy's return to Africa: between external and domestic drivers / G.M. Carbone. - In: RIVISTA ITALIANA DI SCIENZA POLITICA. - ISSN 0048-8402. - (2023). [Epub ahead of print] [10.1017/ipo.2023.2]

Italy's return to Africa: between external and domestic drivers

G.M. Carbone
Primo
2023

Abstract

A steadily increasing number of European countries recently adopted their own 'Africa policies'. The temporal and geographical clustering of such plans suggests that a policy diffusion process might have been at play, with the introduction and the shape of a policy in a given country being influenced by those of other countries. This paper tests the policy diffusion hypothesis through an in-depth analysis of the case of Italy, a country that in recent times stepped up substantially its engagement with sub-Saharan Africa. Tracing the origins and features of Rome's policy towards the region, however, shows that external influences were much more limited than expected. It was primarily two country-specific drivers - namely, the enduring effects of the European debt crisis on the Italian economy and a sudden and massive, if temporary, increase in irregular migration - which pushed Italy towards Africa and shaped its approach. The paper thus sheds light on how the marked resemblance of policies almost contemporaneously adopted by distinct EU member states - that is, a tight succession and a highly interconnected environment strongly pointing at cross-country influences - can hide motives and processes that are actually highly specific to each of them and essentially by-pass policy diffusion dynamics.
Africa; Italy’s foreign policy; policy diffusion; process tracing
Settore SPS/04 - Scienza Politica
2023
Article (author)
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2434/960257
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