A spat is in progress between Italy and the EU.
Newly elected head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker took offence at unelected Italy’s Prime Minister Renzi’s jibe that he’s the head of a band of bureaucrats.
He’s not, says Juncker, even if he and Renzi both are. Anyway, Premier Renzi’s retort was that Italy would not go cap in hand to the EU and that the EU should show more respect for mafia riddled, red tape-tangled, corrupt, inefficient, reform-averse Italy.
Actually, it’s quite a surprise that Italy commands any respect at all from the EU or anywhere else for that matter.
UPDATE: Since writing this, it has been revealed that Jean-Claude Juncker helped hundreds of companies avoid taxes:
[Juncker] oversaw the introduction of laws that helped turn the tiny European country [Luxembourg] into a magnet for multinationals who are seeking to reduce their tax bills
Respect levels for Juncker may well fall after this revelation. A case of pots calling kettles black?
Even so, here are fifteen reasons why Italy does not really deserve much EU respect (even if Italy now has a fine excuse not to respect the European Commission head):
15 Reasons Why Italy Does Not Command Respect
1. The Mafia – Italy has consistently failed to deal with its organised crime problem which has now spread to other nations in Europe and further afield. Indeed, the mafia started spreading long before Mr Renzi became prime minister and the United States began cracking down on the organised crime from Italy phenomenon decades before Italy even acknowledged it was a problem. Italy’s weak attempts to take out the mafia have proven so ineffectual that today the mafia is the biggest multinational in Italy! And mafia power became so massive that it could attempt to blackmail the Italian state. The mafia may even have succeeded. Can anyone respect a nation which allows organised criminals to gain so much power?
2. Corruption – Italy has never really cracked down on its corruption problem until relatively recently and what few anti-corruption laws exist in Italy act as no deterrent whatsoever. All the corrupt have to do is admit their wrongdoing, then they face laughable punishments, and it’s back to corruption as normal. Not only this, but corrupt political parties ensure corrupt candidates are elected over and over again and the moment they are, these people appoint their corrupt friends to positions of power or attempt to have them appointed as constitutional court judges. Does this situation command respect? No, it certainly does not.
3. Silvio Berlusconi – How can one respect a nation which allows someone like Silvio Berlusconi to even stand for election? Add to that the fact that Berlusconi became prime minister of Italy several times. Moreover, Berlusconi made Italy look absolutely foolish in the eyes of the world with his bunga bunga antics. And, Berlusconi, despite his conviction for tax fraud and suspected links to organised crime is still playing the political game. And Italy wants to be taken seriously? Is it joking?
4. Italy’s Justice System – It’s so slow, it’s literally unjust. The EU has told Italy to sort out its justice system but Italy is still dithering over the issue. Can anyone really respect a nation which refuses to create a just legal system? Probably not. Italy’s sluggish justice system also deters foreign direct investment.
5. Italy massive national debt – It’s climbing too. Despite having some of the highest paid politicians in the whole wide world, Italy has allowed its level of national debt to reach such enormous levels that if Italy defaults, the consequences could damage the economy of the globe. And Italy wants respect? For what? Disastrous administration?!
6. Italy’s Brain Drain – Italy has some exceptionally bright people and pays for their education but it largely ignores their brain power. These people are forced to find work in other nations who show much more appreciation for their intellectual horsepower and pay them better into the bargain. Who the heck can respect a nation which virtually derides its greatest resource – its population?
7. Tourism – Italy’s tourism management is an unmitigated, outdated, mess. The nation with more national monuments and UNESCO heritage sites that just about any other country in the world can’t even prevent jewels like Pompeii from crumbling. Italy’s scheme to save Venice from sinking into the mud appears to have been driven more by avarice than by plain common sense. These two examples are the tip of the iceberg. There’s the Italy.it website fiasco, Milan Expo 2o15 corruption etc. etc. All excellent reasons not to respect Italy’s bureaucrats at all.
8. Election System – Italy’s effectively without an election system because a certain convict Berlusconi and his cronies drew up one which is unconstitutional. Has Italy got a new election system yet? Has it blazes! Italy’s bureaucrats are still bickering over a new system which is highly unlikely to be that democratic. Not that Italy has ever been an exemplary democracy anyway. Does this situation command respect? No. Zero.
9. Ripping Off and Non Use of EU Funds – Not only has an Italian politician recently been accused of, er, diverting EU funds into his friends bank accounts for phantom services, Italy’s lovely though depressed, organised crime ridden, southern island of Sicily couldn’t spend billions in EU funding; probably because nobody could find a way to transfer the cash into personal bank accounts. How can you respect a nation which allows this to go on? Answer: You cannot.
10. Tax Evasion – Tax evasion in Italy is a national sport and the situation is not being tackled. Had Italy sorted out its tax evasion issue decades ago, it wouldn’t have had such a massive level of national debt. How can one respect a nation which effectively ignores and virtually considers tax evasion acceptable? Italy’s laughably high and complex taxes worsen the tax evasion issue but does Italy do anything about this? No, forget it. But it still wants respect!
11. Reforms – What reforms? Italy’s politicians have been promising reforms for decades yet nothing effective has ever been passed. All Italy does is tinker and make matters worse despite having exceptionally highly paid administrators. The EU and the ECB have hounded Italy on the reform front but very little has appeared so far. Really, Italy needed reforming 30 years ago, not now! Respect Italy? For what? For perpetual procrastination?
12. Red Tape Tangles – Italy has the temerity to accuse the EU of excessive bureaucracy. Is it joking?! Red tape in Italy is so impenetrable, it encourages corruption and deters foreign investment too. Why should anyone in their right mind respect a nation which instead of reducing red tape increases it continually? They should not and do not.
13. Unfinished Public Works Projects – Italy is littered with them! Billions have been thrown away in Italy over the years on public works schemes of extremely dubious value and Italy has more useless public works projects lined up too! Does this command respect? Nope.
14. Football – Once Italy’s pride and joy, the situation has become so dire that talented Italian footballers are seeking places on teams outside Italy. Italy’s supposedly national sport is as neglected as the rest of the nation. How can one respect a nation which allows this to happen?
15. Il Fatto Quotidiano – This Italian newspaper and website is a roaring success because it features endless reports on corruption and skulduggery in Italy. That Il Fatto Quotidiano even exists is enough of a reason in itself to reduce levels of respect in Italy to virtually zero.
One could come up with plenty more reasons why Italy does not command respect, though fifteen is enough for now. The initial ten point list was simply not long enough. How about Italy’s inability to develop its export markets for example? Sorry, that’s enough for now – unless you’d like to add anything else.
People who hold, or held, Italy in high regard include Putin and the late Gaddafi. More reasons not to respect Italy, I’m afraid.