This article is a summary of what was published in Macrotrends 2021 by Harvard Business Review Italia.
of Enrico Giovannini
The European Union has reacted to the crisis induced by the outbreak of the pandemic very differently from how it had dealt with previous crises. A change resulting from the dramatic economic and social situation but also from a new cultural and political approach adopted by the European Commission and other European institutions, starting with the appointment of the new President Ursula von der Leyen, which has put the goal of bringing Europe on a broad path of sustainable development at the center of its action.
The last twenty years have seen the succession of numerous and diversified crises for the Old Continent, even if, even before them, the European integration process had suffered a clear setback, after the successful creation of the European Monetary Union and the launch of the single currency (1999), and the enlargement of the European Union in 2004.
The economic-financial crisis of 2008-2009 had exposed the limits of the European Union. Monetary policy mistakes made by the European Central Bank e the absence of common fiscal policy instruments capable of offsetting a recession of extraordinary proportions made the response of the European economy to the shock very problematic, also due to the low resilience of some economies, including the Italian one.
Analogous weakness emerged in 2015 on the occasion of the so-called "migration crisis", due to the surge in migratory flows to Europe from Middle Eastern and North African countries, following the political, economic and social instability (“Arab Springs”) and civil wars in Libya and Syria.
The rapid succession of the great recession, the sovereign debt crisis, the migration crisis should have prompted the European institutions and the Member States to intervene to address the structural weaknesses not only of the economic systems, but also of the functioning of the Union. But in fact they were not able to trigger the hoped-for start of the revision of the Lisbon Treaty, also because of the growth of anti-European sentiments fueled by so-called "populist" movements, strongly grown in the last five years, especially in the wake of the migration crisis.
However, it should be noted that the European Union has reacted to the crisis induced by the outbreak of the pandemic very differently how he had dealt with the crises of the last decade. This change is not only the result of the dramatic economic and social situation, but is also due to the new cultural and political approach adopted first by the European Commission and then by the other European institutions. Starting from the appointment of Ursula von der Leyen as President of the Commission, who immediately put the goal of bringing Europe on a path of sustainable development at the center of her action, right from the presentation of her document on political priorities for the five-year period 2019-2024. The President clearly indicated her intention to give the Union a profound change, based on six lines of action:European Green Deal; an economy at the service of people; a Europe ready for the digital age; the promotion of the European way of life; a stronger Europe in the world; a new impetus for European democracy.
In addition, the Commission proposed to put the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, adopted by the 193 countries of the United Nations in 2015, at the center of European policies (the 17 Sustainable Development Goals). This is a profound change of direction with respect to the Juncker Commission, which saw sustainable development as a purely environmental issue. In particular, the President embraces the idea of directing public policies and private choices too the preparation of the socio-economic system for the future shocks that will characterize the 21st century.
It is therefore an extremely complex and well-structured operation, overseen by the Commission to ensure that the process leading to the formulation of the Plans and their contents are in full coherence with the political guidelines established by the European Council and the " historical ”of the challenge. Italy too must be able to respond to this challenge not only in terms of content, but also in terms of governance. In particular, there are four main weaknesses on which the Italian authorities must work in the coming months and years:
- the coherence of the strategic plan for achieving Italy in 2030 with a view to sustainable development (vision);
- the contents of projects and reforms for which we ask for the Next Generation EU funds and their coherence with the interventions and reforms financed from other European and national funds (coherence of policies);
- the design of relations between institutions (national and territorial) called to plan, execute and monitor the implementation of the PNRR (governance effectiveness);
- the construction of a unitary information system which allows to describe in a coherent and comparable way, to follow over time, and to evaluate the impact of the actions foreseen not only by the PNRR (transparency of policies)
Enrico Giovannini he founded the Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development in 2016, of which he is Spokesperson. He was Chief Statistician of the OECD from 2001 to August 2009, President of ISTAT from August 2009 to April 2013. From 28 April 2013 to 22 February 2014 he was Minister of Labor and Social Policy of the Letta government.