The recently published The Ghostwriters – Lawyers and the Politics behind the Judicial Construction of Europe, by Tommaso Pavone, sheds new light on the Xylella fastidiosa outbreak in Apulia and the public reaction it provoked. Pavone is an assistant professor of law and politics at the University of Arizona’s School of Government and Public Policy. In his book on the contribution of lawyers to political change in the European Union, he uses the X. fastidiosa outbreak as a case study to illustrate the role that those actors can play in mobilizing public support.

Drawing on a remarkable range of sources including direct interviews, Pavone shows that while on other occasions lawyers and courts have played a role of mediation enabling EU legislators and citizens to understand each other, in the X. fastidiosa story in Apulia “such public advocacy and interpretive mediation were conspicuously missing”.

In his reconstruction of the facts, the author mentions the BeXyl predecessor project XF-ACTORS and its multi-stakeholder approach as “a belated recognition of the important role that public advocacy and interpretive mediation play in a politics of compliance”. Without those, “the foundations of the judicial construction of Europe risk desiccating as fast as the olive trees of Italy”, Pavone concludes.

The BeXyl Project goes beyond XF-ACTORS and devotes a specific Work-Package to the ecological and social impact of X. fastidiosa outbreaks. The aim is to provide evidence to enable policy and decision-makers to design effective and socially acceptable interventions, outlining innovative plans for managing future phytosanitary emergencies.