Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had a busy week. Her far-right party, Fratelli d’Italia, won 28.8% of the vote in the European elections, making it the largest party in Italy. The prestigious G7 summit, hosted by Meloni in Puglia, South Italy, began on Thursday and ended on Saturday. The event, held in a beautiful Italian coastal resort, included a gala dinner in a medieval castle in Brindisi, a stunning seaside town.

After her election victory, Meloni expressed pride in representing Italy in Europe and the G7 with the strongest government. Among the G7 leaders, she stands out politically. The UK’s Conservative Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who was warmly received by Meloni, is facing upcoming elections in July. The US President Joe Biden is also navigating a challenging presidential campaign. The leaders of the two largest economies in the Eurozone, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, suffered significant election defeats.

At the G7 summit, tensions rose between Meloni and Macron, particularly over the issue of abortion. While Macron has strengthened abortion rights in France, the anti-abortion movement in Italy, under Meloni’s leadership, is gaining influence. Meloni successfully watered down the summit’s conclusions regarding abortion, removing references to safe abortion access and the protection of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Macron expressed regret over the removal of the abortion reference but acknowledged it as the choice of the Italian people. Meloni’s political influence has increased, especially within the European Council of government leaders. She is determined to assert her influence during the upcoming round of European top appointments. Both Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen received a cool reception from Meloni in Puglia, despite their previous close relationship and shared views on strict European migration policies.

While von der Leyen hopes to remain as president, Italian media suggests that Meloni may push for a significant commission position for an Italian candidate instead. This indicates a shift in Italian positioning within the European Union. The next steps will likely be revealed during an informal EU meeting in Brussels on Monday. Meloni’s growing influence on the European stage reflects Italy’s changing political landscape and its impact on key European decisions.