it arrives at the EU late and without entire spending items. No one protests – Time

it arrives at the EU late and without entire spending items. No one protests – Time
it arrives at the EU late and without entire spending items. No one protests – Time

Franco Bechis

October 20, 2021

From 15 October all the budget planning documents of the main countries of the European Union arrived in Brussels: at that date only those of countries that had some internal problems were missing: Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic. And that of Italy, which only yesterday it was approved by the council of ministers. The delay is not sensational, of course, but there was nothing extraordinary that could justify it. Certainly not a round of electoral ballot for a handful of large Italian cities. Let’s try to think what would have happened with such a delay in the days of Giuseppe Conte premier, and going back with a Paolo Gentiloni, a Matteo Renzi, an Enrico Letta or a Silvio Berlusconi.

With Mario Draghi, not even a fly took off to buzz. Imagine if Ursula von der Leyen dared to open her mouth. And you will see that he will not stammer even in the next few days, when in that document the broad lines of Italy’s economic maneuver for 2022 will be read: an amount at stake that still fluctuates between 22 and 23 billion euros. All done in deficit, which caused the European commission to raise screams and din. With some taxes, including those used to finance the Pnrr (sugar and plastic tax) postponed to the following year, with the two most important public spending chapters – social security and assistance – still undefined because the large majority of the Italian government has prevented from finding a square on Quota 100 for pensions and citizenship income, as well as on many other non-secondary chapters (for example duration and scope of the superbonus).

In any of the years that we have behind us, the only suspicion of sending a document so that in Europe would have started resounding slaps to the Italian government, accompanied by the first threatening noises of the markets. Instead nothing. Not even a draft. Here, now you can understand why perhaps there was never really an opportunity in the previous months, what is the advantage of a Draghi premier: at this moment he is the politically heaviest figure in Europe, and everyone knows it and does not have the courage to blink.

There will also be some bad luck in Germany or in other austere countries that have not yet digested all that swag destined for Italy by the Recovery Plan and other extraordinary community funds, largely through a loan but also as a gift. And when they understand the effect of the administrative vote, digestion will become even more difficult. Because in the aftermath of the victory of the left that can not be more left, voices are already being raised about how to use those funds lent or donated for what they call “social justice”: the safest and most mathematical way to throw them away without investing in anything that is able to give value to this country. They know that Draghi will not bite those sirens, and they will trust him as a guarantor capable of putting out populist fires on the right as well as those no less dear to the left.

The 2022 maneuver is therefore in an iron barrel. But apart from some macro-economic tables and some suggestions circulated, so little wine has been poured into that barrel at the moment that it is impossible to judge its quality. A cut in the tax wedge that would be worth 8 billion is hovering as a strong point, but it is not clear whether it will take the populist form already experienced in 2020 and 2021 by the Pd and M5s (all in the paycheck to workers) or if it will remain at least partially upstream by lightening above all the weight of the cost of labor on company balance sheets. There will also be other tax cuts (very popular VAT reduced to 10% on Tampax) and some more uncertainty about cost savings.

No more taxes, as he promised and also motivated before becoming Prime Minister Draghi, and it is certainly a wise choice as well as useful in not slowing down the growth in GDP which is essential to keep a super-debt at bay that cannot be reduced by itself. The chapter on spending cuts is still very confused, because on citizenship income and pensions there are two not insignificant political obstacles such as the M5s by Conte la Lega by Matteo Salvini for once united in intent also with the government component. Without those solutions, the maneuver is very incomplete. But Draghi in that seems very Andreottian and does not care about the time. Also because he knows he can afford it.

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