The Italian Government hit the wrong note at AssArmatori’s first meeting
The new shipowners association headed by Stefano Messina gathered hundreds of stakeholders for its first lobbying meeting. However, Minister Centinaio did not show up and his peer Toninelli disappointed the audience
Rome – A few hundred stakeholders, representing all the categories within the shipping sector, attended the first public meeting of the new shipowners’ association AssArmatori.
While on the one hand the number, variety and qualification of the attendees and of the debate were definitely a success for the association, on the other hand Minister of Tourism Gian Marco Centinaio did not show up and surprisingly Minister of Infrastructures and Transports Danilo Toninelli avoided all controversial issues mentioned by the association’s president Stefano Messina.
Therefore, the main request submitted by AssArmatori went unanswered, i.e. that related to the need of the Italian government to purse the category’s claims within the European Union, as well as to urge the EU to change direction in order to make up for the “greatest failure” of the European policies implemented so far, i.e. those related to the shipping sector.
Said request was summed up by the suggestion of former prime minister Enrico Letta, who attended the round table and urged the government to support the appointment of an Italian representative as European Commissioner for Transports, also because the association, with Gianluigi Aponte’s support, is focusing on the European approach to the Belt and Road Initiative an, in general, to Europe-China relations.
Also in this respect, however, the government did not provide any answers.
The Atlanticism and the cultural provocations of the other speaker, the economist Giulio Sapelli – who was sent by Messina – referring to the executive’s firm assent to the Silk Road only gave rise to a meagre customary defence.
In fact, the Italian government does not seem to be very interested in future prospects or geopolitics, neither in the Italian and European roles in the tensions between Washington ang Beijing, with Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean area in between.
It was no surprise, therefore, that the Ministry’s intentions with regard to technical issues are still mysterious, both at a continental level – with AssArmatori, inspired by MSC, supporting the renewal of the Block Exemption Regulation (the exemption of maritime carriers from the EU antitrust regulation) expiring in 2020 and the promotion of motorways of the sea that are not only intra-Community – and at a national level, although there are many topical issues and despite AssArmatori’s innovating positions: from the single Italian Collective Labour Agreement to be renewed, to the desire to grant the benefits provided for by Article 6 of the International Register also to EU flags, and to the need of port infrastructures that can facilitate the transition of more environmentally sustainable naval supply systems.
Therefore, when Toninelli concluded by referring to a hypothetical Port Authorities Conference and to the strengthening of the programme contract with the Italian Railway Network (RFI) through the next Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE), with 240 million euro for railway connections of the ports of Trieste, Ravenna, Brindisi and Livorno, the audience was somewhat disappointed.