“In the life of nations usually the error of not knowing how to seize the fleeting and irreparable moment”. These words of 1956 by Luigi Einaudi , economist and first President of the Republic, 65 years later, as well as still being of great relevance, are adaptable to the moment that Italy and today’s Europe are experiencing.
The European Union and Italy are in fact in one of these “fleeting moments”. Next Generation Eu and the National Recovery and Resilience Plan are, at the same time, its tool, method and soul. They are of crucial importance for the evolution of the EU and for the Member States because they have laid the foundations for defining both fundamental technical aspects (a possible centralized tax policy with redistributive effects between Member States and with spaces for coordination with respect to national tax policies ) and both to give a new impetus with a political perspective to the EU project.
If by 2026 the major EU countries will successfully implement the projects (reforms and investments) that they have included in their individual NRPs and which represent the key to access the funds of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (the mechanism that Europe has given), the European institutions could in fact be pushed to open a concrete discussion both on the construction of a centralized and permanent fiscal capacity and on the political and institutional profile of a new Europe. For all this, the success of the national plans is a necessary but not sufficient condition.
This story occurs in the very recent past, while Europe was experiencing one of its most difficult moments. Perhaps the most difficult.
In the last twenty years, for the project launched with the 1957 Treaty of Rome, there have been several positive news, but one cannot fail to see how what has marked the entire continent were the negative moments. Three above all: the financial crisis of 2008, which created a very strong economic and social fracture; the re-emergence of nationalisms and the growing “detachment” between the common European dream and sharing with citizens, with the consequent growth of anti-Europeanism that has taken shape in a widespread consensus for anti-system parties; Brexit which for the first time saw the voluntary exit (and not the accession) of a member state: an even more relevant case considering that the United Kingdom was one of the great countries of the Union.
Then came the “black swan” par excellence: a worldwide pandemic, which affected everything and everyone, entering the living flesh of the communities.
It had never happened that over 90 percent of the world’s economies suffered from the simultaneous contraction of GDP. As early as mid-March 2020, equity markets were recording losses higher than those of the 2008 crisis, with investors from all over the world also selling the safest asset par excellence: gold.
It was the happening of what no one had foreseen, the black swan in fact; expression generically used as a metaphor to describe an unexpected event that has immediate and disruptive effects. There has also been talk of an announced catastrophe that we have ignored for too long: perhaps this reading should not be excluded. But net of the many limitations and delays, knowing how and when a global pandemic will occur is truly an eventuality that is difficult to predict.
However, after the first hesitation, the European Union reacted. In his latest public speech, Christmas 2021, David Sassoli, before leaving us due to a tragic and unexpected end, as President of the European Parliament he explained this feeling well with a single sentence: “We listened to the silence of the planet and we were afraid, but we reacted”.
Even unexpectedly compared to what one might have imagined, unusual political choices and economic strength have been put in place that have relaunched and strengthened it. Not without surprise considering the reaction and decision times, since the arrival of the umpteenth black swan there has been a blow to the back of European politics and institutions which, with new tools and preparing to face future challenges with a different perspective, they turned the perspective upside down and turned black swans into white swans! The EU with the Next Generation EU has relaunched its profile. To use the words of Mario Draghi and Emmanuel Macronin the famous December 2021 letter to the Financial Times, “the European Union has often been accused of doing too little and acting too late in addressing the crisis. The collective response to the recession caused by Covid-19 was neither too little nor too late. Rather, it demonstrated the importance of swift and courageous action. And it confirmed the benefits of coordination in policies between countries and institutions ”.
All the Member States reacted, but the Union has put in place a global recovery plan that has allowed economic recovery and the strengthening of continental institutions. It is since the end of the Second World War that there have been no public spending interventions of this magnitude, all implemented with extreme rapidity. But Europe is not only defending itself, but has indeed relaunched with a shared initiative that makes everyone responsible and links resources to the implementation of useful reforms for the future. The reality that seemed to assign the EU a path of crisis and permanent weakening has been overturned, and thanks to the decisions taken, two aspects have emerged that place it instead in a new dimension of the future: a) a common European fiscal policy is possible; b) a new political-institutional and thinkable dimension.
The NGEU seems to work, the mechanisms it has introduced for assessing the quality of public spending, for its methods of financing, for the strengthening of European institutions draw a new path that “offers a useful model for the future”. Alongside this, “a new growth strategy and, then, a strengthened budget policy that goes in this direction – again Draghi and Macron – can contribute decisively and ensure that the EU has the means to act and implement its ambitions “.
In this context, for Italy, the implementation of the interventions envisaged in the NRP is a decisive challenge for the country. Enzo Amendola defined it as a “national mission”who, in recent years, as holder of the delegation to European Affairs, has followed the gestation and implementation of the documents and the various passages. The challenge on which credibility towards citizens, towards partners and towards the Union also depends. Italy has been strengthened in Europe, Europe has strengthened in Italy and Italy has strengthened in the world. This importance on the concept of strengthening Italy was also one of the most significant passages of President Mattarellaon the occasion of his message to Parliament on February 3, 2022, the day of his oath: «Strengthening Italy also means enabling it to guide the process to relaunch Europe, so that it becomes more efficient and just; making stable and structural the turning point that was made in the most challenging days of the pandemic ». Now, the mistake of not grasping this “fleeting moment” – which Einaudi has well described – and not knowing how to manage it in his future perspective, making sure that it is not just “a moment”, and perhaps the most important thing.
As in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, in which after a dramatic storm, in the last act, once the calm has returned, a group of white swans appears; so in Brussels and in our cities after a difficult phase, even a dramatic one, a white swan appeared for the community of the European Union: let’s protect it and give it a perspective. It will serve us all.
It can be a European opportunity and an Italian perspective.

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