Full funding assessment for Italy in PDF
Italy’s environment – the answer to its financial stability?
For the past ten years, Italy has been in an economic recession. Public debt has increased steadily since 2007, reaching 120% of GDP in 2011. Although a founding member of the EU, many of Italy’s regions are still dependent on EU funding, especially agricultural and regional funds. In 2010, Italy received EUR 2.57 billion from EU Cohesion and Structural funds, a funding line that is often dedicated to poorer countries.
Agricultural and structural funds have played a key role in the last 60 years in driving Italy’s economy. However the opportunity of using these funds for environmental benefits is still missing. For example, the environment in rural areas provides services such as food for livestock, clean water, climate regulation, erosion and pest prevention as well as cultural heritage values. By 2050, it is estimated that the loss of biological diversity in the EU will cost European society EUR 1.1 trillion per year.
New Member States are already using the recently introduced opportunities for investing EU funds in nature. For example, Poland is currently using Structural Funds to develop its Natura 2000 management plans. Although Italy is a top net payer country in the EU, contributing net EUR 5.8 billion in 2010, its consequent role in the EU budget debate is overshadowed by its financial instability.
The current public debt crisis in the EU, and Italy’s role contributing to it, will clearly limit the availability of Italian public funds for the environment. At the same time, it is an opportunity for a debate on the most efficient and wise use of taxpayers’ money and for the phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies.