So in Italy we have a new government.
I confess, despite Draghi, I am far from enthusiastic.
There are 15 'political' ministers and 8 'technical' ones. Only 8 women out of 23.The Ministry of Ecological Transition is not a super ministry as had been announced, but the old Ministry of the Environment plus Energy. The transfer of Energy to the Ministry of the Environment would be good news if it were headed by a man or woman who is truly convinced that what is needed is not just transition but ecological transformation, who knows the administrative machinery, who knows how to speak to all sectors, including civil society, and who is ready or willing to start eliminating the 19 billion plus in environmentally harmful public subsidies that Italian taxpayers pay every year; that is capable of relaunching renewables, which are heavily penalised in Italy, by taking energy efficiency, biodiversity and the circular economy seriously, away from lobbies, starting with the extremely powerful ENI, and that is able to guarantee a competent and strong presence in Europe, instead of the feeble (and often gas-supporting) and not particularly incisive presence on environmental issues that we have seen at work in the two governments with the 5 stars.
This ministry will surprisingly go to an eminent scientist and expert in innovation, Roberto Cingolani, not at all known for his green convictions. He will also coordinate the group that will manage the green transition, whatever that means for Draghi and for himself. With all due respect to a scientist of great renown and culture who has certainly done important things, I wonder whether he will have the right profile and sensitivity. I will not hide the fact that I am very perplexed.
Reading some of his articles and writings does not reassure me at all. Go and see a nice tweet by Giuseppe Onufrio, director of Greenpeace Italy, which reports how the new minister said in an ENI publication that renewable energies are too expensive, or read other interesting writings that talk about the importance of making compromises between sustainability and growth (!) and it seems to me (I don't want to misunderstand) that all technologies, including fossil fuels, must be taken into account in the transition because in the end it is with technology that everything will be solved. Unfortunately, when it comes to the environment and sustainability, this is not the case, not least because we really don't have time to wait for oil or gas to be cleaned up. They have to be replaced first.
Not to mention that he is in charge of technological innovation at Leonardo-Finmeccanica, a company 30% of whose capital is publicly owned and which deals with weapons and aerospace. Only Draghi and a few others know what's green in all this.
Obviously, far be it from me to harbor prejudices against a very prestigious person whom I do not know, but what I have read, perhaps too quickly, is exactly the language of someone who does not believe that it is possible to change the economy at all: and yet in Italy, the second Green economy in Europe, it is known that the challenge of achieving sustainable economic, fiscal, industrial policies is not to find a "compromise" between sustainability and industrial production as the new Minister claimed, but exactly to build a NEW economy that manages to be competitive and produce work BECAUSE it is sustainable, using fewer resources, recycling them and preparing to stop using gas and oil. It seems to me that there will be a lot of work to be done to ensure that it is not the Ministry of the Environment that takes over the Energy issue, but the MISE that takes over the Ministry of the Environment.
Luckily there is Enrico Giovannini for Transport and Infrastructure, a former Minister of Labour, professor and tireless president of ASVIS, who has been working for years on how to transform Italy into a socially sound and green country. It is clear that he would have been the natural candidate for the Ministry of Ecological Transition and it would be interesting to understand why this did not happen. Let's hope they let him work and let's hope that in the rewriting of the PNRR, if there will be one, he will be able to reallocate the 32 billion he should manage so that it is not eaten up as was planned by high speed trains and much more space is given to urban transport, safety, maintenance and regional mobility. He will need a lot of support because his approach is ultra-minority in the Draghi government and even the President of the Council, given the choices he has made, is perhaps not so aware is of the difficult choices that the green turn that he himself spoke of during the consultations will entail.
Another very worrying aspect is that Salvini and Berlusconi are back in government, with ministers who have already been seen in action: Giorgetti (Lega) for industry is the cement and fossil fuel lobby returning (or remaining) in power; Gelmini returns after her disastrous work as Education Minister; Renato Brunetta also is back after his very controversial work years ago as minister of Public administration in the government of Berlusconi.
Furthermore, with the exception of Marta Cartabia, former president of the Constitutional Court (an eminent jurist and .... member of Comunione e Liberazione - help! ), Lamorgese (internal affairs) and Massa (research and university), the other female ministers are without portfolios; the Ministry of Equal Opportunities remains in the hands of one of the outgoing ministers who did not particularly distinguish herself in her role despite the strong campaign that developed from many sides over the last weeks to entrust it with greater relevance and resources; and, last but not least, no woman minister entered as a representative of the "progressive" parties in the political quota.
Another very relevant issue, the team that will deal with the biggest part of the National Recovery Plan is male: this may be normal given that those who negotiated were all men. On this issue, while not justifying it much, PD Secretary Zingaretti says on Facebook that the choice was Draghi's and Mattarella's and that no names were indicated by the PD. It is probably true that the choice of Draghi and Mattarella made up a shortlist of PD currents, and that therefore power balancing prevailed over gender, which obviously has a more limited importance for the new prime minister. We will see what happens with the appointments that follow, but this is a major setback, especially as regards the ministries that will have to manage the recovery, rebuild the Recovery and spend it.
In general, however, and looking at Italy from a bright day here in Brussels, it is confirmed once again that either we have an environmentalist party that can have a large number of votes and representation, and which once again the Five Star Movement has shown it does not know how to be or does not want to be, or in Italy there is not and will not be much room either for real choices of ecological transformation or for women.
February 13, 2021