Historical Social Research

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Elisabetta Bini: A Transatlantic Shock: Italy’s Energy Policies between the Mediterranean and the EEC, 1967-1974. [Abstract]

This article analyzes Italy’s energy politics in the context of the 1973 “oil shock,” by focusing on the policies carried out by the Italian government and by the State-owned oil company Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi (National Hydrocarbon Agency, ENI) between the outbreak of the Six Day War in 1967 and the mid-1970s. It places Italy’s oil politics in the framework of post-World War II international relations, and argues that Italy responded to oil producers’ increased power much earlier than other consuming countries. In the 1950s and 1960s, ENI established an autonomous position in the international oil market, by offering oil producers wider control over their energy resources. Drawing on these policies, during and after the Six Day War and in the context of the 1973 “oil shock,” ENI was able to pursue bilateral relations with producers, such as Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the USSR, which revolved around the exchange of oil for technical and economic aid and training. At the same time, the Italian government, through Foreign Minister Aldo Moro, linked in new and original ways the changes taking place in the Mediterranean with the process of détente. He promoted a dialogue between the European Economic Community (EEC) and Arab countries, around issues relating to security, peace and economic cooperation. However, Italy’s policies increasingly clashed with US interpretations of the “oil shock.” During the Energy Conference, held in Washington DC in February 1974, Italy aligned itself with the US position, and became an active member of the International Energy Agency (IEA), while at the same time continuing to promote forms of economic cooperation between the two sides of the Mediterranean.

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