Giuseppe Conte ran to Taranto to put his face on the crisis ofex Ilva. And to show that "the government is there" and "will never allow the steelworks to close", as President Sergio Mattarella suggested to him, concerned about the impact, and the possible knock-on effect, that would have the escape of ArcelorMittal on the Italian industrial system. But the crowd, at the gates, asked the prime minister to close the factory, not to defend it. And to the workers who instead want to keep their jobs, Conte candidly confessed that he didn't have "a solution in his pocket".
The government is in the cul de sac. Plan A remains constraining ArcelorMittal to stay. "This is the main road," they explain at Palazzo Chigi, "the imperative of the entire executive is to force the French-Indian giant to respect the contract it signed just a year ago."
Ex Ilva, the citizens of Taranto in Conte: "We want closure"
However, given that there is not a single minister or a single majority party that aims at the judicial dispute ("it would last for years, it would be a defeat for everyone", they observe in Conte's entourage), the intention of the minister, of the minister Economics Roberto Gualtieri and economic development manager Stefano Patuanelli is pushing ArcelorMittal to negotiate. To renounce the purpose, announced urbi et orbi, to pack. And to abandon Italy once and for all, as it loses 60 million a month and Moody's threatens to downgrade it.
In the meeting that should take place on Monday – but until yesterday evening Conte did not call Lakshimi Mittal to invite him to Palazzo Chigi – the government is ready to show its willingness to meet the demands of the French-Indian giant. Granting not the 5,000 redundancies requested by ArcelorMittal, but "no more than half", says a minister following the dossier.
This availability would be accompanied by the yes of the executive to revise the industrial plan, with a contraction in steel production, compared to the 6 million tons guaranteed by the contract. More than the launch of the famous criminal shield: the rule that gives the backseat to numerous grillini parliamentarians and that pushes Luigi Di Maio (worried for the keeping of the Movement) to launch a new warning to the Pd and Italia Viva, favorable to guarantee the protection in way to remove alibi from the Franco-Indians: "If an amendment is presented on the shield it is a problem for the government".
And it really would be. Huge. Putting confidence in the measure with immunity would represent a mortal risk for Conte: in the Senate the rebels led by Lezzi would not vote for it. How mortal would be the yes to the penal shield with the decisive votes of the League, FdI and Forza Italia. "In that case it would be a crisis," confides a minister dem.
The leaders and lawyers of ArcelorMittal observe the situation with a perplexity and skepticism. They say they are willing to negotiate "if the government makes reasonable proposals". At the same time, however, they consider the statements of Di Maio against the penal shield and the accusation of default launched by Gualtieri as harmful.
In this stalemate, some ministers rushed to propose the nationalization of theex Ilva: the Patuanelli grill ("privatize it was a mistake"), the dem Paola Paola Micheli (Transportation) and Francesco Boccia (regional affairs), the representative of Leu Roberto Speranza (Salute). Conte, on the other hand, simply does not exclude it: "It makes no sense to talk about it now, I am waiting for a proposal from Mr. Mittal."
THE HALF BLUFF
In reality the move to throw the hypothesis of nationalizing Europe's first steelworks is just tactics. Or an extreme ratio. And it is a way to make the French-Indians believe that the government has an alternative solution and therefore push them to lower the claims. But both Gualtieri and his deputy Antonio Misiani make it clear that this solution does not exist. And it doesn't make sense. Because too expensive. And because it would prefigure a form of state aid prohibited by the European Union. "Nationalization? The government's perspective is that ArcelorMittal will fulfill its commitments, implement the industrial and environmental plan and make the promised investments, "says the Economy Minister. And Misiani: "To evoke plans B or C is wrong, we have to negotiate with the French-Indian company to make it come back".
The problem is that there are no alternative solutions at the moment. Just yesterday the Indian group Jindal, which was part of the Acciaitalia consortium with CDP, Arvedi, Del Vecchio defeated in 2018 by ArcelorMittal, called itself definitively out. Thus also the hypothesis indicated by Matteo Renzi also falls. Conclusion: if the government fails to hold the French-Indian giant in Italy, the plants in Taranto, Genoa and Novi Ligure will return to the commissioners. To then try a new tender. Meanwhile, the executive will have to pull out hundreds of millions more to keep the remnants of the Italian iron and steel industry alive.
Last updated at 7:22 am
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