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Questo articolo è stato pubblicato il 06 febbraio 2013 alle ore 04:59.
L'ultima modifica è del 06 febbraio 2013 alle ore 04:30.


The European Council of Heads of State or Government that begins tomorrow will focus on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for 2014–20. Its importance for the EU and for Italy is remarkable because the growth incentives we so urgently need might come from the budget, regardless of the fact that it is small, at around 1 percent of EU GDP. It also has a political value, as re​​called by leaders of the European Parliament.

Discussing growth in the EU and the European Monetary Union is pointless if the EU budget, from the initial 1.091 trillion euros projected by the commission has already been cut (albeit temporarily) to 972 billion euros following the European Council meeting in November. European Council President Herman Van Rompuy is negotiating a further cut as Germany, the U.K. and others would like. The European Parliament is, however, against it and its president, Martin Schulz (of the Social Democratic Party), emphasized that under Van Rompuy’s proposals, the EU would end up in 2020 with a budget equal to that of 2005. He pointed out that the European Parliament has veto power and that without agreement on the multiannual budget, the EU would adopt the 2013 budget—which is better than Van Rompuy’s proposals. The latter underestimate the effects of zero growth and of 12 percent unemployment in Europe and the risk of putting in jeopardy the Europe 2020 program and related infrastructure investments.

Since the Italian recession is also ongoing, the EU budget could produce important stimulus factors for us.

Prime Minister Mario Monti said he will defend Italy’s interests by reducing our net contribution (we pay more to the EU than we receive) and that he might veto the EU budget. His courageous intention needs to be analyzed from a European perspective, keeping in mind that today there are two Montis: the one at the helm of the government and the one that is campaigning for confirmation.

We appreciate part of the work done on the Italy-Europe relationship by the Monti government. It proved (thanks to the support from almost the entire Parliament) that our country was reliable because our public finances could be quickly put under control. And it was the basis on which Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), was able to save the euro in August through the use of new tools (OMTS), making Italy’s (and Spain’s) interest rates and spread differentials fall.

Since then, however, Monti could’ve done more for Italian growth by capitalizing on the possibilities made available by the ESM fund and the ECB to further lower interest rates and therefore make resources available for growth.

We know it was a difficult choice but discarding it to safeguard sovereignty and national dignity is not a convincing argument in the context of European solidarity. Spain had no such problems and took out a 40 billion euro loan with an average maturity of 12 and a half years from the European ESM fund at very affordable rates.

Of the Monti that is campaigning we take into account what is stated in the electoral agenda entitled “Cambiare l’Italia, riformare l’Europa" (“Changing Italy, Reforming Europe”). A good effort, but one expected more realism in its proposals—a realism we hope might emerge in the European Council, especially with regard to two needs.

The European need is to not reduce the budget to less than 1 percent of EU GDP but also to devote increasing resources to industry, infrastructure (transportation, energy, telecommunications), to scientific and technological research. We have seen that Monti is more comfortable dealing with macrofinancial and liberalization policies rather than with the structural ones concerning the real economy and industry. For the latter, Monti is expected to once again raise the issue of Eurobonds (or EuroUnionBonds, as Prodi-Quadrio Curzio put it), which are seen favorably by both the Parliament and the European Commission. These are also needed to finance the European Commission's plan for industrial policy, to which Commissioner Antonio Tajani made an important contribution.

The Italian need concerns our positioning in the seven year (2014–20) EU budget, which should not be calculated with miserliness (also because many of the benefits deriving from a united Europe cannot be quantified), but cannot be handed over to other countries’ decisions. Let’s consider (on an accounting basis and with some approximation) the 2002–11 decade, which straddles two MFFs (the one for 2000–06 and the one for 2007–13). Italy devolved to the EU budget 32.28 billion euros more than it has received (3.2 billion euros per year or, on average, 0.22 percent of our yearly GDP). France has given 37.79 billion euros more than it has received (3.8 billion annually, or 0.2 percent of its GDP on average per year). Germany has given 72.86 billion euros more than it has received (7.3 billion euros per year, or 0.31 percent on average of its annual GDP). In relation to national GDPs, we therefore were, after Germany, the EU’s biggest net contributor. In 2009 and 2011, Italy gave, in relation to its GDP, even more than Germany, even though we were in crisis, while Germany was growing.

We know that there are many causes (on a national and European level) that affect net contributions and that Italy has not always used those made available by the EU. There was, however, a notable improvement in 2012, thanks to the important work of the minister for territorial cohesion, Fabrizio Barca. We cannot, however, ignore a comparison with Spain, which, over that same decade (eight of which in Italy, we must emphasize, were under Silvio Berlusconi), received net contributions from the EU of 50.64 billion euros. If we consider that, along with this total, Spain also received a recent loan from the European fund, we must conclude that it took too much, while Italy gave too much, because European solidarity also means efficiency in each country and equity between countries.