I’m still wrapping my head around this recovery fund. In general, I think I’m ok with it, although I do believe that it’s not a very progressive deal when it comes to environmental issues or research, but perhaps the European Parliament will change that. I’ve read that they are often more ambitious.

I’m pleased to see that Italy is going to receive a good amount of money and in this way the horrifying covid experience in this country is acknowledged by other member states. Something else I’m pleased about is that Italy can propose their own reform plans. Of course there is a focus on European goals, but Italy can create ideas that are based on their strengths, instead of somebody else’s. Then it’s up to the European Commission to decide if these plans are in line with the expectations and goals they’ve decided on.

I have quite some trust in Conte, in all honesty. I like him. He’s stable, very qualified, from the South (I really do like that), ambitious, but realistic and he is very aware that he is dealing with EU money and with that money he wants to do a good job for Italy first without losing EU out of sight. Of course there are also Italians (Salvini and his subjects) who are not pleased with this deal. I don’t like Salvini, I’ll also be honest about that. I don’t think he’s the right person to be a politician. He seems unable to cooperate with anybody, which makes you fail as a politician in my books. That doesn’t mean that he never makes a valid point, he does. I share his concern about the retirement age, which has been a point of discussion for possible reforms. The retirement age is already at 67 and can’t and won’t be brought back down (I’m quite sure of it), but might even increase. Italy currently has one of the highest retirement ages in the world, so this is tricky.

Then there is also his concern about the fact that the funds have to be paid back by 2058. This is both correct and incorrect. The European Commission is going to borrow the money for both funds and loans and wants to pay it back by 2058. That is true. This doesn’t mean that Italy has to pay back more, because it’s receiving more funds. The entire 1000 billion is a shared loan by all member states. Besides, to pay back the money for funds the EU member states have thought about increasing certain kind of taxes. For example on plastic pollution, CO2 pollution, etc. I think as a citizen, you won’t really be paying for any of this (at least not a significant amount). As a very polluting big company, you might, but also that seems fair. This is, at least, how I understood the agreement.

Of course, we still have to see if everything goes according to plan, so some scepticism may be justified, but I’m pleased to see that 27 member states managed to agree on something very important and I think we should now move on from here.

This is the first time Italy is going to be a net benificiary, instead of a net contributor, which does something to the pride of nation, but in an exceptional situation it’s understandable. However, I don’t know what most Italians think of this recovery fund. Based on what I’ve seen on social media (but this is far from reliable), the majority seems to be excited, ok or quite pleased with the deal, some are sceptic, but not necessarily negative and others believe that Italy is going to have to please the EU too much. But I think in many countries the population is divided similarly.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

From Italy with love,

Merel