Blair will meet Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to talk about the TAP, Trans Adriatic Pipeline. A gas pipeline project that will bring gas to Italy from Azerbaijan and help diversify the national energy mix. Blair will meet the politician as a TAP consultant, a role he seems to have covered since 2014.
The meeting will take place in Rome to discuss the controversial plans to extend a gas pipeline that will run from Azerbaijan to Puglia in southern Italy, under the Adriatic Sea. In this regard, Salvini said he was willing to listen to Blair on the evolution of the construction site and on other issues related to the delicate European situation.
Salvini: “Gas pipeline, strategic infrastructure”; Movimento 5 Stelle: “Useless and harmful pipeline”
The Italian government coalition between M5S and the League is divided on the question of the pipeline. In July, Salvini said he would support the pipeline project, arguing that it would help reduce gas prices in Italy, where there was little competition in the energy market. “The south of Italy needs infrastructure – said Salvini – we need to move forward“. A few days after this statement, Barbara Lezzi, M5S minister for the south, replied to Minister Salvini: “We need infrastructure: we need roads, schools, railway stations and the construction of the pipeline would be useless and harmful“. Luigi Di Maio consequently declared: “The party hasn‘t changed its mind on the construction of the gas pipeline even if today an alliance sees us at the helm of the country“. Italian environmentalists claim that Puglia, which has two UNESCO World Heritage sites, will suffer because of the pipeline. There are fears that the pipeline will contaminate fresh water supplies. Activists say the beach will be turned into a construction site, threatening the habitat of Mediterranean monk seals. Interest in the pipeline has increased as the opposition grows in Europe for plans for the largest Russian gas pipeline supported by Russians, the Nord Stream 2, which will take gas from Russia to Germany, probably avoiding Ukraine’s rival Russia in gas supplies in Europe and beyond.
Estimates of the gas field in Azerbaijan and the Salvini – Blair meeting
It is estimated that the gas field in Azerbaijan has gas reserves of 1.2 cubic tons and that the EU expects to receive 1.2 million cubic meters per day from the pipeline. Although Blair and Salvini may represent the opposite poles in terms of solutions linked to populism, their meeting could serve to loosen the grip of the no that comes from M5S. Unfortunately, Blair Institute suggests that concerns about social change, uncertain economic futures, social abandonment and political impotence have led to the rise of populist leaders in almost all EU countries.