Three centuries in a month and moving forward: #Italy, #EU, and #COVID19 - 6. A fair weather union revisited

6. A fair weather union revisited

Tra eurofobia ed eurofilia)

So, eleven months after the 2016 article discussed in the previous section, in June 2017 shared a commentary on "tra eurofobia ed eurofilia", with some links to material from the media.

It is in Italian, and using Italian cultural references, so I will not even try to translate it (unless requested), but one item I used within the article as a way to summarize can be shared.

Seeing Italians' attitudes toward "Europe" (instead of just "European Union" or "Euro"), identified five attitudes:
1. Euro-no
2. Euro-ni
3. Euro-boh
4. Euro-so
5. Euro-sì

I think that the descriptions are self-explanatory.

Personally, as you can expect, I pigeonholed myself within the category number 4, i.e. eurolukewarm, a qualified yes, akin to a "we are in, let's try to make it work better".

I like debating with those who disagree from me- "preaching to the choir" is boring...

...much better listening to others and see if we can "agree to disagree", i.e. we can share observations, start diverging on diagnosis, and propose different therapies.

Unfortunately, "political debate" in Italy today is often closer to "preaching to the choir": both europhobic and europhiliacs are inclined to exclude and deride each other.

The only exception reminds me of an old saying: I and my brother against my neighbour; I, my brother, my neighbour against our enemy.

So, when we have to quarrel with Brussels, often we end up making a united front based on "us vs. them", more than on any negotiation strategy.

In that article, along with a small SNAFU (in one paragraph I reversed the position of the five clusters), shared also links to multimedia that does not require any Italian language skills.

Instead, more seriously discussed how, for a couple of decades, the Italian élites played a self-defeatist game, e.g. in business by moving abroad full production lines, assuming that their foreign suppliers would not think "why should we keep these guys in the loop"- a case of cultural hybris with a whiff of racism (I still hear way too many belittling non-whites as a way to relate with globalization).

On the business side, we have in Italy still way too many cultural biases about our exceptionalism that negatively affect our ability to compete.

From vague references to the Roman Empire, to the creation of modern banking, to Renaissance, Leonardo, Galilei, to innate creativity, to being the country with most UNESCO heritage sites, to our cooking, food, fashion...

...make your pick: it is not detrimental to be proud about your past, but it is if that then does not push you to ask "why cannot achieve that now?"

If more of my fellow Italians were to ask that simple question, they would recognize that the context is different- and that we Italians are different.

We need to compete within the XXI century, not the I century, or the XIV.

Our cohesion is crisis-related, and based not on stamina and resilience, but on adrenaline.

As soon as the crisis is gone, and adrenaline returns to normal levels, we start again our tribal quarrels, as shown over the last few days, as soon as the trend of COVID-19 infections slowed down.

In 2017 I called our Europhobia (now returning) a "fig leaf"- akin to the one that was set on statues.

Developing a political industry requires a long-term perception of your target- and a continuous monitoring of what your competitors are doing, to adjust as needed, or identify potential partners or, for larger initiatives, also co-competitors (your competitors that could actually be interested and interesting in being partners for part of the journey, to pool resources).

Overall hundreds of billions of EUR were announced in Italy as support to keep the economy afload during the COVID-19 lockdown and move onto phase 2 (i.e. the "Dr. Strangelove" scenario, or how to get used for a while to the virus as part of our everyday environment).

I am looking forward to see how that will be managed- as I already wrote a while ago on both Facebook and Linkedin on the risk of "coronadressing" of companies that were what is called "zombies" for a while (i.e. courtesy of low interests, could generate enough cash-flow to keep their credit lines alive, but would never be a "normal" business).

Again, as in other past articles I discussed so far, I think that what is asking now e.g. the centre-right (removing red tape) would maybe work elsewhere, but it is just one element of the picture, as, in our current culture, if anything we have to ensure an efficient allocation of resources.

Why? Because 25, 200, 400bln EUR now are nice joint political messages supported across the political spectrum- but we are overloading an already high national debt at a time when there is already the dual issue of converting our economy toward a new model, while new generations work in a purely "gig economy"- and there are worries about having a sustainable welfare system.

Within the Italian article of 2017 I then discussed the consequences- you can have a look there if you are interested.

It is a matter of sustainability.

And, in Italy, the COVID-19 crisis showed that our balance of powers between central government and regional governments still require some tuning.