Giorgia Meloni and the Plan for Southern Italy

Trade and Economics - March 28, 2024

Opportunities for Southern Italy: this is what the massive work of the Meloni government wants to generate. During the past year, numerous interventions have been planned to push and support the growth of the southern regions. The government’s major commitment is reflected in the Southern Decree.

Europe is also paying attention to the issue. From September 1 to 3, 2023, for example, the Culture Weekend, an activity promoted by the ECR Party, took place in Scylla, in the Calabria region. On this occasion, in front of more than 600 delegates, there was talk about Southern Italy, economic growth, European transport policy, agriculture and territories, as well as innovation in the health sector. These intense three days allowed the opening of an interesting debate on the development and opportunities directed to the South of Italy. The event was attended by Roberta Metsola, President of the European Parliament, and other important personalities holding prominent positions, including: Patrizia Giacomo La Pietra, Deputy Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of Agriculture; Wanda Ferro, Undersecretary of State for the Ministry of the Interior; Giovanni Donzelli, MP, FDI Organisation Manager; Nello Musumeci, Minister of Civil Protection and Maritime Policy; Galeazzo Bignami, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Transport.

The Calabrian Weekend is, therefore, part of a broader framework of ideas for the redevelopment and growth of Southern Italy, and Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has spoken about it in recent weeks.


Southern Decree: the Government’s initiatives

The decree includes a number of important financial and strategic measures to revitalize the regions of Southern Italy. These include: the distribution of funds among the regions, the specific management of NRRP funds, and the Super SEZ (Special Economic Zones).

On the issue of funds allocated to the South of the Peninsula, the draft decree reads: “In order to ensure a more effective coordination between European and national resources for cohesion, the resources for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the resources of the Development and Cohesion Fund for the 2021-2027 programming period, referred to in article 1, paragraph 178, of law n. 178 of 30 December 2020, paragraph 178 of the same article 1 is replaced by the following: all the resources referred to in paragraph 177 shall be used to support exclusively development interventions, allocated in the proportion of 80 per cent in the areas of the South and 20 per cent in the areas of the Centre-North, which shall be allocated annually as follows: 4,000 million euros for the year 2021, 5,000 million euros annually from 2022 to 2029 and 6,000 million euros for the year 2030”.

Article 7, “national strategy for the development of inland areas”, on the other hand, specifies the establishment of a steering committee, i.e. a collegial body, chaired by the Minister for European Affairs, Cohesion Policies and the NRRP, and composed of the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport, the Minister of the Environment and Energy Security, the Minister of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forestry, the Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Culture, the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Education and Merit, the Minister of University and Research, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Regional Affairs and Autonomies, the Minister of Civil Protection and Sea Policy, and the Minister of Economy and Finance, as well as the president of the Conference of Autonomous Regions and Provinces, the president of the Union of Italian Provinces, the president of the National Association of Italian Municipalities, and the president of the National Union of Municipalities, Communities, and Mountain Entities.

This, as the text states, “in order to ensure the effectiveness and sustainability over time of the national strategy for the development of the country’s inland areas, consistent with the Partnership Agreement for the use of structural funds allocated to Italy for the 2021-2027 programming cycle”.


Interventions for the municipalities of Caivano and Lampedusa

The Prime Minister visited the municipality of Caivano, in the province of Naples, following episodes of rape on minors, and announced important measures: “We are here,” Meloni explained during the press conference held at the end of the visit and of the meeting of the committee for order and security on the future of the Green Park, “to express solidarity to the innocent victims of an inhuman act, of an infamous crime that clearly shocked everyone, but we are here above all to bring back the serious, authoritative, constant presence of the Italian State, of the institutions of the Republic, being that in territories like this one have often not been sufficiently perceived and perhaps sufficiently present”. Then she added: “A just State has first and foremost the duty to defend the weakest, and minors are among these individuals”.

According to the PM, a “courageous policy must put its face to it and take responsibility. And that is exactly what we intend to do.”

Article 9 of the Sothern Italy Decree sheds light on the management of the funds earmarked for the municipality of Caivano: “In order to tackle situations of degradation and social vulnerability in the territory of Caivano, the Department for Cohesion Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, in agreement with the municipality of Caivano, shall prepare an extraordinary plan of infrastructural and redevelopment interventions within the territory of the aforementioned municipality. By resolution of the Inter-ministerial Committee for Economic Planning and Sustainable Development (CIPESS), adopted on the proposal of the Minister for European Affairs, the South, Cohesion Policies and the NRRP, the plan of interventions referred to in the first period is approved and the relevant resources allocated to the Municipality of Caivano, within the overall limit of 30 million euros, from the Fund for Development and Cohesion, programming period 2021-2027, referred to in Article 1, paragraph 177, of Law N. 178 of December 30, 2020, and consistent with the financial availability of the same”.

As for specific measures, Prime Minister Meloni spoke of land reclamation, which also includes the reopening of an important pole for the community, namely a sports centre: a concrete fight against school dropouts and the concretisation of job opportunities.



Article 10 elaborates on the interventions in favour of the municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa. “In order to cope with the serious socio-economic situation on the island of Lampedusa,” reads the text, “determined as a result of the exceptional influx of citizens from Mediterranean countries, the Department for Cohesion Policies of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers prepares, in agreement with the municipality of Lampedusa and Linosa, a plan of interventions aimed at the construction and extraordinary maintenance of primary urbanisation works, the construction of purification and waste water management plants, the construction of new public buildings, and the implementation of redevelopment and energy efficiency measures for the existing ones”.

On the topic of immigration and its related issues, it is important to point out that Meloni went to Lampedusa to verify the current conditions, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also took part in the institutional visit.


Single SEZ: strategies for the growth of economic and entrepreneurial activities

“By Special Economic Zone,” reads Article 11, “is meant a delimited area of the territory of the State in which the exercise of economic and entrepreneurial activities, by companies that are already operating and those that will be established, can benefit from special conditions in relation to investments and business development activities”.

Therefore, from January 1, 2024, the Special Economic Zone for the South is established, hereafter including the regions of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sicily and Sardinia.

Article 12, which goes into the specifics and makes clear the type of organisation that will be adopted to manage the SEZ, specifies: “The SEZ steering committee is established at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, with tasks of direction, coordination, supervision and monitoring, chaired by the Minister for European Affairs, the South, Cohesion Policies and the NRRP”.

In essence, the SEZ aims to reduce the gap between the north and south of the peninsula, as well as the economic distances on the international level.

On the issue, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni clarified to the press: “The development of the economy of southern Italy is a priority for our government. However, we are convinced that this goal must be achieved by abandoning the welfare logic that does not work and by providing opportunities for work and growth, making these areas of the country competitive and attractive to investments and businesses. The single SEZ goes exactly in this direction and constitutes a change of pace for the economy of the South”.