Italy can thank the euro, here are the reasons
by Gianfranco Fabi
The abandonment of devaluation policies of the currency, which had characterized the 80s and 90s of the last century, forced the Italian industry to find new ways to conquer competitiveness: with very positive results especially for the exports.
The single European currency turned 20 at the beginning of this year. And the agreements of Maastricht that underlie it were signed just thirty years ago, on February 7, 1992.
It must be said that the euro project was not a triumphal journey, there were mistakes and stiffening, but it was an important, indeed decisive moment in the process of progressive European integration. The basic strategy had already been set at the beginning of the 80s of the last century by the then president of the European Commission, Jacques Delors which conceived of integration as a three-stage missile, the first with the creation of the single market and the free movement of capital, the second with the common currency, the third with an ever closer political unity that would have been pushed precisely by economic integration.
And so it was, even if political unity has certainly made progress, but it is still far from having reached a well-defined balance like that of states that have centuries of history behind them. The fact remains, however, that important elements such as the launch of the great Next generation Eu project with loans of € 750 billion, they were made possible thanks to the progress of the integration process.
Italy can thank the euro and its dynamics because, together with the other countries of the South, it will have an important part of these interventions.
Moreover, in recent years there have been no shortages positive effects on economic growth. Until the start of the monetary unit process, Italy entrusted the devaluation of the currency with the solution, however expensive and temporary, of the competitiveness problems of its industry. The arrival of the euro has practically forced the Italian economy to choose another path, that of the modernization of production systems, of automation, of the digital revolution.
In the last ten years Italy has registered a trade balance with a growing surplus, taking fifth place in the world. Thanks to financial and organizational interventions, with the plan called Industry 4.0, Italian manufacturing has grown more than what is constantly defined as the German locomotive, in terms of both added value and productivity and exports.
Sectors such as agro-food, pharmaceuticals, mechanics, pleasure boating have made more than significant progress in exports despite the difficulties on the markets. And exports, which in theory should have been penalized by a strong currency, have driven growth that has allowed the Italian economy to positively face the negative effects of the measures against the pandemic. Will the over 6% increase in gross domestic product last year mean anything?
This does not mean that the single European currency is the best of all possible worlds. It simply means that, as in life, the mistakes of youth can be forgiven if they help to find the right path. And Europe after the time of rigidity, of the required parameters, of the recovery plans has been able to give space to flexibility, to long-term aid, to that particularly important element which is solidarity.
But the exams are not over, on the contrary now the most difficult are coming. Why is it necessary to retire not so much the euro, as the Maastricht treaties. And to re-establish the Stability and Growth Pact on a new basis, suspended two years ago in the face of the health emergency.