Katainen to ANSA IT on the creativity of Italian Economy

Jyrki Katainen, European Commission VP, makes Treviso as example social impact investment.

di Chiara De Felice –

Italy is “the most creative economy in Europe”, the only one capable of producing great added value, but its potential risks remaining unexpressed and the country “is less rich than it could be”, because “there is something that keeps growth permanently lower than the EU average”. This is the “gap to be filled”, thanks to the reforms and the help of EU instruments such as the investment plan, which in Italy can create up to 400 thousand jobs. In an interview with ANSA Jyrki Katainen, vice president of the EU Commission responsible for growth and employment, applauds the government’s reformist effort, urges them not to be satisfied, and warns: to see the effects of the reforms they need six to eight years.

“Italy is the most creative economy in Europe, number one in creating added value”, which is “a solid base” but “the country is less rich than it could be”, because “there is something which keeps growth permanently lower than the EU average. “Such a creative economy would have every reason to sustain much higher growth.” Instead, “if you look at historical growth, and compare it with the others of the Union, from the early 90s it is always below average, and this gap is something we have to fill”. The problem of growth, he explained, “is structural and not cyclical”, and “for this reason the reforms are very important”.

The Government has already made “good and crucial” steps, like P.A., work, banks, justice. All bottlenecks that keep the recovery harnessed. The government “knows what needs to be done”, even if it is a long process: “You can not change everything in one night”, many of those “structural challenges can be faced in 6-8 years”. Fortunately, there is also Europe to lend a hand. Above all with the investment plan (EFSI), which “Italy has been extremely good at using“. It is “the second largest beneficiary, has already used 6.5 billion that will unlock 36.7 billion additional investments”, and already “205.931 SMEs are taking the funds”. EFSI, explained Katainen, “has also been used for infrastructure projects, such as the Treviso hospital, a single investment, combined with social impact investment”. The impact on employment is soon said: “If we calculate that every SME will hire one or two more people, it will create 205 thousand or 410 thousand jobs”. Having “so many SMEs” asking for funds to develop their business, “is a good example that there is something special about the Italian economy”.

It is true, however, that this is not enough to make Italians, the most Eurosceptics of the latest polls, feel confident in the EU. That’s a task that belongs to the politicians: “I’m sure that 99% of Italians do not know EFSI and do not know that it has financed 200 thousand sme”. But no information campaigns are needed: “People should hear from their politicians what the EU is”, and Governments should have their own “agenda for Europe” and explain to citizens what they are pushing for in Brussels. If they do not, or if they “accuse Europe of everything like the United Kingdom has done for twenty years”, we end up with the Brexit. But, paradoxically, it has held back the populists: “In many states it was an alarm for those who were against the EU for opportunistic reasons, and in many countries I saw that governments have changed their position”.