Giovanni Tria, "who poisons the wells": dirty game against Meloni and Italy

Giovanni Tria, “who poisons the wells”: dirty game against Meloni and Italy

Sandro Iacometti

Professor Tria, the gas price cap continues to slip, how is Europe faring against Putin?
“We thought that the economic war was a walk in the park, let’s put the sanctions, Russia is hit and we remain calm and happy”.

And instead?
“Instead it was taken for granted that we too would suffer the cost of this war, when you hit you always get an answer. Putin’s on gas is not blackmail, but acts of war. The West must acknowledge that it has declared an economic war on Russia and must now accept to bear the costs ”.

It’s been more than three years since John Tria he held the reins of Via XX Settembre under the Conte I government. Difficult months, in which the then Minister of the Economy had to sweat seven shirts to convince the EU, as it did later, that Italy would keep the accounts in order. Despite the effort, however, the professor seems to almost regret the time when in Brussels at least there was someone who was in charge …

At the beginning of the conflict on the part of the EU there was great determination, why now all these difficulties?
«Because at the beginning sanctions were chosen that will be costly for us only in the future, as in the case of the exclusion of Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system, a bit like when you make public debt that someone will repay in the future. Now with the gas conflict the costs are immediate ».

And nobody wants to pay them …
“Nobody has to do it alone, the costs have to be distributed among all allies. And it is unthinkable that anyone can earn it ».

Are you referring to the US and Norway, NATO countries that are making good money by selling us gas?
«Of course, but also to Germany and the Netherlands, which continue to oppose the ceiling on the price of methane to protect their interests. But if so, how can we then criticize China and India for buying cheap fuel from Putin? They too have their own interests ».

But they are also in the interests of Moscow …
«For those at war, gas has become a weapon, for the rest of the world it remains only an energy asset to be purchased on the market. So the West must act accordingly ».

And why doesn’t he do it?
“Because there is no unified command. An economic war of this magnitude must be waged with a global leadership that does not exist and with a European leadership that does not exist. It’s like having an allied military command where everyone argues about what needs to be done. “

But Ursula von der Leyen has recently been banging her fists on the table …
“Unfortunately we don’t have a European guide, I see a parade leadership that is needed for the photographs, but I don’t see any decision. Europe is showing weakness today, it has decided to carry on an economic war against Russia and then does not agree on anything ».

If the EU does not decide Italy alone, what can it do?
“Certainly not the roof on the price of gas. To make it effective you need to create a cartel on the part of the buyers, which must be large and strong enough to be able to set an administered price. Otherwise the seller says thank you and good evening ».

And without the roof how will it end for us?
«I believe that if the situation does not unblock we must clearly tell the Italians that we are at war and therefore sacrifices must be made. It is necessary to keep productive activities on their feet and cover only the weaker classes, who must be able to survive, and it cuts itself off in a ferocious way from the other parts ».

Shouldn’t the ecological transition be temporarily suspended?
«It needs to be continued, but the emphasis should be placed on the word ‘transition’. It means that it is necessary to arrive at the replacement of fossil fuels safely. While Europe has not diversified its sources of supply, it has abandoned investments in gas and found itself unprepared for the emergency. As during the pandemic, no one had stocks of anything. It continues to proceed as if everything were always going to be fine. The Defense buys the fighter-bombers hoping to never have to use them ».

Can the ECB help us with its monetary policies?
“The ECB is trying to keep inflation under control, but it has wrong estimates and is now making a methodological error”.

«Make the next decisions by looking only at the data. The data always refer to the past, you need to have a vision. Also in this case I see a big leadership problem ».

Aren’t the rising rates and the costs of the war likely to bring Italy back into the crosshairs of the EU and speculators, as happened to you when you were a minister?
“I see less of this danger, the situation has changed a lot since then, that government was a surprise, it was thought that it would blow up public finance and then it didn’t happen”.

But there were great tensions on the financial …
“Look, as Minister of the Economy I closed a state budget with a 1.5% deficit / GDP, the lowest in the last decade, an increase in the primary surplus and a small decrease in the GDP debt ratio”.

After many discussions with the EU …
«The main problem I had to face in Brussels was the legacy left by the previous governments, which had used all the spaces of flexibility introduced by the Commission on additional investment spending, allocating resources instead to current spending. It’s not like we had a great reputation. I don’t want to accuse anyone, but when it comes to reliability I get on my nerves ».

Now many are adding fuel to the fire, saying that with a new government Italy will end up bankrupt …
“I think what they are doing in this sense is irresponsible, it means poisoning the wells. But I don’t think the markets fall into it very much. The position that Draghi has taken, to say that whatever government Italy will succeed, was very important. Then the declarations coming from the parties that according to the polls they will win the elections are very reassuring, no one is shooting at Europe or underestimating the debt issue. In any case this EU, so weak and divided, will not have the strength to isolate Italy as happened in the past ».

There is a lot of talk these days about citizenship income, haven’t you regretted having passed that law?
“I was a minister of a political government, which had a parliamentary majority and the provisions it was counting on. On the merits I shared the theoretical objectives of the measure, on the one hand supporting the poor on the other facilitating the technological transition, compensating for the inevitable employment consequences … ».

But something different came out …
«The law, and I said it even then, was written with the feet, confuses plans and is full of technical errors. Do you think that it provided for private companies to train the unemployed for free, hoping to recover the money when the beneficiaries found a job. Madness ».

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