Dispatch from Rome: October 2023

The Haizum Italian Insider Report is a monthly news service that monitors the most relevant issues in Italy. This document focuses on political, Economical, and Strategic matters, taking into account the role of Italy within the European Union, the MENA region, and Transatlantic Relations. The report will deliver clever insights by leveraging Haizum’s deep connections in the national institutional ecosystem.

Reading Time: 20 Minutes


In the vivid and dynamic landscape of Italy’s political, economic, and diplomatic spheres, there are number of significant developments unfold. At the center of the political arena, President Mattarella has been an ardent advocate for global commitments, illustrating Italy’s aspirations on the international stage. Organizational reshuffling is taking place within Ministries such as the health one – with Minister Schillaci’s innovative proposals and the anticipated leadership of Rocco Bellantone – and MIMIT.

The European Union’s continued confidence in Italian leaders is evident, with key figures such as Enrico Letta and Mario Draghi taking pivotal roles, demonstrating Italy’s European alignment. Defense and security are also a cornerstone of Italy’s strategic framework. The NATO appointment of Admiral Cavo Dragone and the nation’s renewed defense partnership with India shed light on Italy’s significance. On the diplomatic front, Italy’s evolving relations, including strengthening bonds with Qatar and Germany, contrasted with a cautious approach to China, demonstrate the nation’s flexible and strategic global posture. Africa emerges as a vital touchpoint in Italy’s global strategy, with its pivotal geopolitical role becoming increasingly evident.

In this context, Italy’s economy appears turbulent, characterized by fluctuations in prices and economic indicators. Yet amidst the challenges, there are promising export trends and potential policies that could guide the nation toward economic resilience. As the nation moves toward sustainability, its commitments in the energy sector indicate a determined march toward global environmental goals.

The evolving situation of some of Italy’s strategic companies such as Acciaierie d’Italia and Prysmian, paints a picture of corporate challenges and potential transformations. The nation’s focus on digital infrastructure, touched by new appointments as in Open Fiber, reveals Italy’s commitment to fortifying its digital economy and enhancing national security. Simultaneously, engagements such as those of Eni in Algeria emphasize the growing importance of energy collaborations.

This rich tapestry of developments forms the backdrop of Italy’s current strategic scenario, setting the stage for its future trajectory in the global arena.

Expo 2030: Mattarella Supports Rome’s Bid

“The Expo in Rome will represent all the peoples of the Globe.” This was said by the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, at the forum “People and Territories” in Paris on October the 11th. It marked a significant and prestigious endorsement for the Rome’s bid to host the Universal Exhibition in seven years. The appeal was made right in the heart of France, at an event specifically dedicated to the Expo. 

This occasion serves as a platform for diplomatic efforts, led by Mattarella, aimed at countering the opposition of Macron and his associates, who are determined to support Riyadh’s candidacy, which, as of now, is the leading contender. Competing against Riyadh seems insurmountable since Riyadh Season has become the new sponsor of AS Roma, signing a two-year deal worth 25 million euros. Mayor Gualtieri has expressed optimism about the final voting outcome on multiple occasions. However, it’s challenging to envision competing against Riyadh.

Higher Institute of Health: Rocco Bellantone Takes the Helm

From the Catholic University to the Higher Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità). Silvio Brusaferro’s presidency has come to an end. He was a key figure in the battle against Covid, and among the most consulted advisors by the Conte and Draghi Governments. Rocco Bellantone will succeed him. A professor and endocrinologist, Bellantone served as the dean of the Catholic University. Notably, he is fortified by a significant familial connection.  His cousin is Giovanbattista Fazzolari, the Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Council. Fazzolari is considered one of the individuals closest to Premier Giorgia Meloni. 

Restructuring the Ministry of Health

The Council of Ministers has given preliminary approval to Orazio Schillaci’s proposal of restructuring the Ministry of Health. The proposal designs four new Departments providing 12 General Directorates. The position of the general secretary, previously held by Giovanni Leonardi, will be eliminated. The Mission Unit for NRRP’s implementation remains. The creation of a dedicated “One Health” department and a directorate for correct lifestyles highlights Schillaci’s vision. Other notable inclusions are the Directorates of Health Emergencies and of Health Infrastructure. 

MIMIT’S Reorganization

The Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy (MIMIT) is undergoing an internal reorganization. This move introduces new structural roles. The Ministry will now have four Departments and nine General Directorates. This organizational change, approved by the Council of Ministries (CdM), implies an expansion of top leadership structures. These shifts are in line with the broader reorganization across various Ministries of Meloni Government, heralding a series of new appointments in top roles.

Like the Ministry of Health, the position of the general secretary will be abolished. Currently, this role is held by Benedetto Mineo. Amedeo Teti, with significant experience in international trade and patents and currently the director of the DG for the Protection of Industrial Property, appears to be a prime candidate for the Department of Market and Protection. Eva Spina, current head of the DG for Communication Technologies and Cybersecurity, is another significant figure. She could potentially lead the Department for Technology, Connectivity, and Space. 

Enrico Letta Heads to Brussels Following Mario Draghi’s Appointment

The European Union has officially assigned Enrico Letta the task of drafting a report outlining the revitalization of the future single market, scheduled for presentation in March 2024.  

Following Mario Draghi’s appointment by Ursula von der Leyen to prepare a report on European competitiveness, another former Italian Prime Minister, now distant from political debate, will contribute in Brussels. Brusselsinclination towards former centrist or center-left Prime Ministers could be a message to the Meloni’s Government to be faithful to European values and fiscal stability and reject extreme stances. In a and more complex and at risk of conflict world, the EU emphasizes the necessity for strategic rethinking. Letta will collect insights from various European and national bodies, employers, labor unions, and civil society associations.

Cavo Dragone will be the new Head of NATO Military Committee

Admiral Cavo Dragone will succeed Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer as head of the NATO Military Committee, the organization that includes the chiefs of defense staffs of all allied countries. As head, the Italian officer will oversee the activities of NATO’s military structures. The NATO Military Committee directs operations carried out by Allied forces (through the Allied command operations). This transition is scheduled for January 2025. The presence of Cavo Dragone in such a central position could strengthen Italy’s position within the Alliance, increasing its influence in decision-making. 

Italy and India Strengthen Defense Partnership

Bilateral relations between Italy and India have been strengthening in recent years. In March, Meloni and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi elevated these relations to the level of a strategic partnership. Crosetto welcomed Indian Defense Minister Singh at Villa Madama to sign a memorandum and discuss about Middle East, Africa, and the Indo-Mediterranean region. The Italian and Indian Ministers renewed their defense cooperation agreement, which had lapsed in 2019 due to tensions between the two countries after the incident involving two marines.

Meloni in Doha strengthens direct relations with al Thani

Giorgia Meloni made a significant stop in Qatar, reinforcing direct relations with the al Thani family. Contrary to initial assumptions, this visit was of strategic importance. Rome and Doha have been strengthening their cooperation on complex issues such as the development of the Global South and the security of the Mediterranean region. There’s a growing emphasis on energy discussions, fostering a collaborative climate for investments and trade. Relations between Rome and Doha are flourishing, fueled by trade exchanges and cooperation in the energy, manufacturing, and defense. Accompanying Meloni were Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Eni, and Giancarlo Giorgetti, Minister of Economy. Evidence of this partnership was in 2022, when Eni was chosen by QatarEnergy as an international partner for the expansion of the North Field East project, signaling Italy’s strategic role in the development of the world’s largest gas deposit. 

Out from the Silk Road

Premier Giorgia Meloni has unofficially informed China about Italy’s intentions to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative. This information was given by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Antonio Tajani during an interview to Fox News in New York, where he attended the United Nations General Assembly. Tajani emphasized Italy’s alignment with the United States, indicating that Italy did not see economic advantages in tanking part of this initiative.

The German-Italian Action Plan 

The Italian-German Action Plan is moving forward and is expected to be finalized during a Governmental summit in Germany at the end of November. This was confirmed by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Italian counterpart, Antonio Tajani, during a press conference in Berlin. This collaboration aims to strengthen not only their economic and political ties but also their joint role in European strategic initiatives. 

An Italian among the Latest Appointments to EU Directorates General 

Marco Marsella has been appointed to a prominent position within the European Commission’s Directorates-General. Specifically, he has been appointed director of “Digital, EU4Health, and Health System Modernization” within the Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE). In his new role, Marsella will be responsible for EU food safety and health policy, and he will oversee the implementation of relevant laws. 

Tajani in Egypt. Italy with Cairo to Avoid Regional Escalation 

The primary goal of the Egyptian Government is to stop the spread of violence that could immediately affect neighboring and sensitive regions while safeguarding its own borders. This visit conveyed a strong condemnation of Hamas terrorist attacks and emphasized a harmonized approach toward regional de-escalation. The vital role of the Arab League in establishing humanitarian corridors was also highlighted.

Cairo has undertaken mediation efforts, in conjunction with Qatar, to secure the release of hostages, particularly women and children. Tajani met with the Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, signaling Italy’s comprehensive diplomatic strategy. 

Additionally, during meetings with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Tajani discussed Italy’s concerns on the migration dossier and broader geopolitical prospects. The overarching goal of the Italian Government ties back to the “Piano Mattei”, aiming for a deeper role in Africa’s socio-political infrastructure.

Meloni in Africa

Giorgia Meloni, embarked on a strategic journey to Africa, highlighting Italy’s commitment to foster multi-faceted cooperation. This cooperation spans the energy and economic sectors. Meloni’s visit to Congo and Mozambique saw her joining withClaudio Descalzi. This trip was initially scheduled to last two days but was truncated due to the Hamas attacks in Israel. Meloni’s first stop was in Maputo to meet with, Denis Sassou N’Guesso. The meetings with Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi and with the President of the Republic of Congo underscore the significance of strengthening ties between Italy and countries where Eni is actively involved in the LNG sector, emphasizing the role of energy in the Mattei Plan. 

The Mattei Plan serves as a model to expand Italy’s involvement in addressing the food crisis and geopolitics in Africa. Eni is at the forefront of this cooperation, especially with its projects on renewable energies and the LNG. Particularly noteworthy is Eni’s Scarabeo 5 project in Mozambique, which transforms a semi-submersible drilling unit into a Floating Production Unit, signifying a pivotal step in advancing African energy interests. 

High Prices and Rates Stall the Italian Economy

High prices and interest rates are hindering the Italian economy. Italian families face increased interest payments. The service sector’s growth has halted, and the industrial sector is struggling. Domestic demand in Italy is declining, and exports are shrinking, albeit with an improvement in August. 

Risk of recession. After the decline in the second quarter, Italian GDP is expected to remain weak in the third quarter, and the forecast for the fourth quarter is not better. The European Central Bank’s (ECB) interest rates continue to rise, credit availability shrinks, liquidity decreases, and energy costs rise. As a result, consumer spending and investment are suffering, and foreign demand is lacking.

Inflation is slowly declining. Italy’s inflation rate fell to +5.3 % annually in September. Prices of core goods and services are slowing (+3.9%), while food prices are beginning to moderate (+8.6%), thanks to the recent decline in raw materials. Consumer energy prices are rising slightly (+1.7% annually), but gas and oil prices increased in September.

Credit and liquidity are declining. The cost of credit for Italian companies continue to rise and loan availability is declining. An increasing number of businesses are unable to obtain credit. As a result, company liquidity is drying up, payment delays are increasing, and old loans are deteriorating.

Exports are declining. Italian goods exports decreased in July, both within and outside the EU. However, there was a rebound in non-EU exports in August, especially to the U.S. September still brought negative indications for foreign manufacturing orders, mainly due to weak European demand.

Marcello Sala, the New Dg Economics and Finance of the MEF

Marcello Sala has been appointed as the new Director General of Economy and Finance for the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF). This approval was given by the Council of Ministers based on the recommendation of Minister Giorgetti. The Ministry has been undergoing reorganizational changes at its top, with the creation of a new department that will also oversee public participations from companies as Mps and Eni. 

Sala was previously vice president of Intesa Sanpaolo and has extensive experience in the financial sector, holding significant international roles. In 2016, he moved from Intesa to Apis, a London-based private equity firm focused on innovative financial services investments in emerging markets such as India, Egypt, Indonesia, and South Africa.

ECB green light for Cipollon

The European Central Bank (ECB) has approved the appointment of Piero Cipollone, current deputy director general of the Bank of Italy, to its Executive Board. Cipollone’s background boasts a distinguished stature and experience in the monetary or banking field, in line with the requirements set out in Article 283 of the EU Treaty.

LUISS new top management

Luigi Gubitosi has been appointed as the new president of the Luiss Guido Carli University. Other board members appointed include Giuliano Amato, former president of the Constitutional Court and former Prime Minister; Luigi Carbone, former chief of staff to the Minister of Economy during the Conte I Government; Monica Maggioni, former president of Rai and former director of Tg1; Paolo Magri, vice president of Ispi and professor of international relations; Antonino Mattarella and Andrea Zoppini, former undersecretaries of Justice during the Monti government. The new board elected the president and executive vice president, Vito Grassi and Barbare Beltrame Giacomello. Both Grassi and Giacomello are current national vice presidents of Confindustria.

Golar Tundra to Vado Ligure

News regarding the relocation of the Golar Tundra regasification vessel from Piombino to Vado Ligure has sparked significant protests in the Savona region. Giovanni Toti, the President of the Liguria Region and supported by the center-right, who is also the commissioner for the regasification project, provided clarification on the issue. 

Firstly, the Port of Genoa, one of Italy’s most crucial ports, was deemed too crowded to accommodate an FSRU. Furthermore, Vado Ligure, approximately fifty kilometers west of Genoa, is strategically closer to the primary gas pipelines that supply the Northwest. The decision to move the Golar Tundra was taken by Snam, the company that oversees Italy’s gas network.

New National Strategy for Sustainable Development 

The newly unveiled National Strategy for Sustainable Development in Italy aims to achieve the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda. This strategy is anchored on the five “P”s: People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership, which comprehensively intertwine economic, social, and environmental matters.  Pichetto Fratin, the Minister of Environment and Energy Safety, described it as a concrete action plan for environmental, economic, and social sustainability.

COPASIR focus on Africa

The COPASIR Committee, responsible for overseeing Italian intelligence services, is increasingly turning its attention towards Africa. This increased interest is driven by factors such as demographics, raw materials, and security concerns. Recently, think tanks made their first appearances at COPASIR meetings. Among the first to be invited were the ISPI and Aspen research centers. This isa significant departure from the norm, as think tank representatives had never been invited to COPASIR hearings in the last 15 years.

ACCIAIERIE D’ITALIA: Here’s what’s going on in Acciaierie d’Italia 

The future of Acciaierie d’Italia, formerly known as Ilva, is currently hanging. Franco Bernabé, the President of Acciaierie d’Italia, is contemplating resigning due to the lack of capitalization for the former Ilva steel plant. This potential move has caused divisions among Ministers Fitto and Urso over the future of the Taranto plant. Bernabé has informed to the Meloni Government that he’s open to leaving his position. However, no formal resignation has been submitted to the executive so far. 

Urso had previously proposed that Invitalia, a Government agency, assume majority control. This move, initially set for May 2024, was seen as a way to inject funds into the steel company. However, Fitto seems inclined to let Acciaierie d’Italia remain under the control of the current majority shareholder, ArcelorMittal. One of the main points of contention is the investments needed for decarbonization, transition to electricity, production revitalization and plant safety, estimated at around 5 billion euros. The overall scenario, as described by the unions, is not promising. 

CASSA DEPOSITI E PRESTITI: Giuseppe Gola appointed CEO of Open Fiber 

Giuseppe Gola has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer of Open Fiber, succeeding Mario Rossetti. The transition wasn’t entirely smooth. While Mario Rossetti formally stepped down from his role, underlying reasons suggest he was ousted by the Government. The board of Open Fiber, a company specializing in fiber optic networks, convened recently to acknowledge Rossetti’s resignation. A subsequent meeting was scheduled by CDP (Cassa Depositi e Prestiti), which owns a 60% stake in Open Fiber, with the remaining 40% held by the Australian fund Macquarie. Gola brings with him significant industry experience, having served as CEO of Acea until September of the previous year. His tenure at Acea ended when the city of Rome and Caltagirone expressed their preference for Fabrizio Palermo, a former top executive at CDP, to lead the once municipally owned company. 

ENI: Descalzi goes to Algeria

Claudio Descalzi recently met with Mohamed Arkab, the Algerian Minister of Energy and Mines, and Rachid Hachichi, the new CEO of Sonatrach, in Algiers. Both Eni and Sonatrach presented their plans for collaboration, focusing primarily on gas production overseen by Eni, as well as the exportation of gas and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe. These include identifying gas leaks in pipelines and facilities and identifying opportunities to reduce flaring in SONATRACH fields. As part of the ongoing collaboration, the two sides also discussed other energy transition initiatives, including renewable energy sources, hydrogen, and the electricity interconnector linking Algeria to Europe.

Descalzi provided Minister Arkab with an update on the Memorandums of Understandings that were previously signed between Eni and Sonatrach in January. These MoUs, dedicated to the decarbonization of upstream processes, have initiated several activities. 

PRYSMIAN: All the Hiccups of Prysmian in Italy

Prysmian, global leader in the production of cables for energy and telecommunications applications as well as optical fibers, seems to be receiving mixed signals in its operations. On one hand, there are announcements about lucrative contracts and flourishing accounts. The company secured a substantial 630 million Euros contract from Terna Rete Italia, for the Adriatic Link. Moreover, Prysmian was reportedly selected as the “preferred bidder” for a potential 4.5 billion Euros project in Germany to supply cables connecting North Sea offshore wind farms to industrial districts in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia. 

However, the company is about to employ social shock absorbers for nearly 500 employees from FOS in Battipaglia (Salerno) and the Pignataro site (Caserta). Particularly, the FOS facility in Battipaglia, which produces optical fiber for the digital network, has been grappling with market challenges for years. The high quality of its technology, though superior, is priced higher than similar products from China and India.

The Pignataro facility in Caserta, which produces high and medium voltage cables, is reportedly facing challenges due to Enel, which, for the first time, halted orders previously secured by Prysmian. This resulted in Prysmian initiating a period of ordinary layoff fund and not confirming about twenty workers, creating both occupational and wage issues. 

TIM: Giorgetti opens to New Summit with Vivendi

Giancarlo Giorgetti, the Minister of Economy, has expressed openness towards the possibility of another meeting with Vivendi concerning TIM. Following an initial discussion last week, the Minister confirmed his willingness for further dialogues with all involved parties. This move arises amid the ongoing relationship with the French media company, Vivendi, which stands as the primary shareholder of the telecommunications group, TIM. 

Further discussing TIM and the b, Giorgetti stressed the significance of TIM as a valuable asset for the country. He highlighted the importance of finding a mutually beneficial solution that serves the interests of the critical infrastructure and protects the interests of all shareholders.

  • Adnkronos
  • AGI
  • AIFA
  • ANSA
  • Ares Osservatorio Difesa
  • ASI
  • Askanews
  • Aspen Institute
  • Associated Press
  • Astrospace
  • Banca d’Italia alert
  • Bloomberg
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Camera dei Deputati
  • Censis
  • Confagricoltura
  • Domani
  • Centro Alti Studi Difesa
  • Cassa Depositi e Prestiti
  • Centro Economia Digitale
  • Centro Studi Confindustria
  • Corriere della Sera
  • Dagospia
  • Domani
  • ENI alert
  • Euractiv
  • Fondazione Enrico Mattei
  • Formiche.net
  • Fortune
  • Gazzetta Ufficiale
  • Geopolitica.info
  • Key4Biz
  • IIT
  • Il Foglio
  • Il Messaggero
  • Il Sole 24 Ore
  • Il Tempo
  • Informazioni Parlamentari
  • Inside Over
  • Intesa Direzione Ricerca
  • ISPI
  • Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Italia Domani
  • Key4Biz
  • La Stampa
  • La Verità
  • Le Grand Continent
  • Leonardo alert
  • Lettera43
  • L’Espresso
  • Limes
  • Milano Finanza
  • Nomos Centro Studi Parlamentari
  • Nucleare e Ragione
  • OCSE
  • Open
  • Open Polis
  • Osservatore Romano
  • Osservatorio Parlamento
  • Policy Maker
  • Politico
  • Portale Difesa
  • Poteri Deboli
  • Prima Online
  • Radio Radicale
  • Redazione Terza Repubblica
  • Report Difesa
  • Repubblica
  • Rivista Energia
  • Rivista Italiana Difesa
  • SACE
  • Sassate
  • Space Economy Lab – Bocconi
  • Senato della Repubblica
  • Servizi Studi Camera dei Deputati
  • Staffetta Energetica
  • Start Magazine
  • Symbola
  • Union Camere
  • World Energy Council Italia



P. IVA 12561140968

Via Pattari, 6, 20122 Milano MI

Proud Member of

© 2022 Created by ABCPRODUCTION.digital



P. IVA 12561140968

Via Pattari, 6, 20122 Milano MI

Proud member of

© 2022 Created by ABCPRODUCTION.digital