1967 – 2014

The development of European funding for southern Italy was intrinsically linked to the launch of European Regional Policy. In 1967, the merger of the executive institutions of the European Communities paved the way for the creation of the Directorate-General for Regional Affairs. In October 1970, on the occasion of a meeting of the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community, representatives of the Italian government pushed for the establishment of a genuine regional cohesion policy. In 1975, the European Fund for Regional Development was created to finance investment projects. In 1988, following the accession of Greece, Portugal and Spain to the European Economic Community, it was agreed that the Fund’s resources should be used within the framework of an overarching territorial cohesion strategy that would favour the least developed regions in the medium to long term.

“Le Conseil marque son accord sur la participation de la Banque Européenne au financement des trois projets Sincat, Celene et Mercure, moyennant un crédit de la contrevaleur de 20 millions d’unités de compte, accordé à la Cassa per il Mezzogiorno” 1The Council agrees to the participation of the European Bank in the funding of the Sincat, Celene and Mercury projects with a credit equivalent to 20 million units of account, allocated to the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno” – Procès-verbal of the Board of Governors, Credit Operations for the Projects Mercure (exploitation of a Vein of Brown Coal and Construction of a Thermoelectric Power Station), Sincat e Celene (Creation of a Petrochemical Complex in Sicily), 18th March 1959, BEI 1030, Historical Archives of the European Union

Law 64/1986 established a strategic programme for initiatives to promote economic development in the south, thus following suggestions made by the European Commission. From 1993 on, initiatives aimed specifically at the Mezzogiorno ceased and policies were henceforth framed under Law 488/92, which reorganised all actions directed at underdeveloped areas in the country as a whole. This decision was motivated by the realisation that the original character of the policy had been lost, leaving it open to inefficiency and corruption.

“La création d’un vaste marché consécutif à l’ouverture des frontières européennes, et la mise en œuvre de politiques communes dans certain des secteurs les plus importants de l’économie et notamment dans l’agriculture, ont en effet accru considérablement les relations d’interdépendance économique entre les pays européens. Désormais, les problèmes économiques se posent en des termes toujours similaires et souvent communs dans tous les états membres, et il n’est plus concevable de les traiter isolément. Les solutions doivent être sinon toujours communes, du moins toujours étroitement coordonnées.” 2The creation of a vast market following the opening of European borders and the implementation of common policies in some of the most important sectors of the economy, particularly in agriculture, greatly increased economic interdependence between European countries. Then, as now, the economic problems that arose were common to all Member States, and it was not feasible to deal with them in isolation. At the very least, solutions had to be closely coordinated” – Speech of François-Xavier Ortoli, Athens 1975

Belice Viaduct
Maurizio Fraschetti, Belice Viaduct – State Street 626, Valle del Salso, 1980, Maurizio Fraschetti /Archivi Alinari

Following the enlargement of the European Union to the Eastern European countries, the European Union attempted to respond to the concerns of the Mediterranean countries with the launch, in 1995, of the Euro Mediterranean Partnership, aimed at improving trade relations on both shores of the Mediterranean.

The new policy aimed to go beyond the Association Agreements, with the objective of creating a region of peace and stability in the Mediterranean, beginning with trade cooperation.

“Cette Europe solidaire, puissante, ouverte, aux nécessités des pays moins favorisés par la nature ou par l’histoire, nous voulons enfin qu’elle soit une Europe pour les hommes. Car, pour paraphraser l’Évangile, à quoi sert de conquérir le monde si l’on vient à perdre son âme.” 3We want this supportive, strong Europe, open to the needs of countries less favoured by nature or history, to be a Europe for the people. To paraphrase the Gospel, what does it serve to conquer the world if we lose our own soul” – Discorso di François-Xavier Ortoli, Atene 1975

In the current international context, as a consequence of the Arab Spring and of the dramatic civil wars in the region, it has become necessary to rethink the model of European integration with the objective of putting into practice the message of peace and solidarity which lay in the hearts of those who signed the final document of the Messina Conference.

References   [ + ]

1.The Council agrees to the participation of the European Bank in the funding of the Sincat, Celene and Mercury projects with a credit equivalent to 20 million units of account, allocated to the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno” – Procès-verbal of the Board of Governors, Credit Operations for the Projects Mercure (exploitation of a Vein of Brown Coal and Construction of a Thermoelectric Power Station), Sincat e Celene (Creation of a Petrochemical Complex in Sicily), 18th March 1959, BEI 1030, Historical Archives of the European Union
2.The creation of a vast market following the opening of European borders and the implementation of common policies in some of the most important sectors of the economy, particularly in agriculture, greatly increased economic interdependence between European countries. Then, as now, the economic problems that arose were common to all Member States, and it was not feasible to deal with them in isolation. At the very least, solutions had to be closely coordinated” – Speech of François-Xavier Ortoli, Athens 1975
3.We want this supportive, strong Europe, open to the needs of countries less favoured by nature or history, to be a Europe for the people. To paraphrase the Gospel, what does it serve to conquer the world if we lose our own soul” – Discorso di François-Xavier Ortoli, Atene 1975