“The Recovery Plan is a historic opportunity for everyone. We have begun our comeback, growth comes higher than expected and the labour market is also recovering significantly, even if there are still some negative aspects, such as the 300,000 jobs missing compared to the pre-COVID period. These words were voiced by Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who reiterated the central role of jobs in Italy’s growth process at the “Stella al Merito del Lavoro” (Star of Labour Merit) awards ceremony.
Yet how far have we come with this Plan?
The Italia Domani portal traces the path of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, focusing on achieved and remaining targets, ensuring that the country channels the available funds of over €200 billion into structural growth and not just an impromptu economic rebound.
Following the government’s update with the ministries in early November, Italy has achieved 29 of the 51 goals agreed with Europe for 2021. There are still 22 targets to go by the end of the year to receive the second tranche of funds of €20 billion. These numbers, however, as the government explained, mark a ‘strong acceleration’.
The Undersecretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Roberto Garofoli, during the Conference of Heads of Cabinet on the implementation of the government’s programme and the recovery, explained that “there has been a sharp acceleration in targets over the past month, from 13 at the end of September to 29”.
And to further speed things up, ministries have been assigned “weekly targets, instead of just monthly“, with the aim of “reducing the overall stock” of measures to be implemented under this recovery plan even more significantly in the final two months of the year.
The Council of Ministers meeting on 27 October approved measures to achieve eight targets, including a green light for the revolving fund to support businesses in energy requalification, environmental sustainability and digital innovation, and the framework law on disability.
However, many targets remain unfulfilled. And not only for political reasons. Not least because many regulatory measures are needed to set them in motion: so far, 549 have been adopted, most of which require further implementing legislation.
The remaining targets
The 22 remaining targets include the decrees for the reform of civil justice, the implementation of the ‘Single Customs Window’, the completion of the digital tourism hub, and above all the recruitment of 1,000 public administration technicians to implement the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
In reality, therefore, many of the 22 outstanding targets have been partially implemented. For example, even though the rules for selection have already been launched regarding the recruitment of the 1,000 professionals (assigned across the regions) for ‘technical assistance and strengthening capacity-building to implement the plan’, the procedures have not yet concluded.
Civil procedural reform is also well advanced, though the implementing decrees are pending. The same holds true for the insolvency reform and the reform of public procurement and concessions.
On the labour front, after the approval of the decree on the GOL employability programme, we now await local implementation of regional plans and the final approval of Anpal (National Agency for Active Policies), as the initial funding is set to arrive in January 2022.
On the environmental front, of the 51 targets to be achieved by the end of the year, four are green and only one has been completed, namely the extension of the Superbonus. A further three are still to be completed by the 31 December deadline for the initial targets.
However, the Ministry for Ecological and Environmental Transition is confident that it will be able to complete them, and has already gone ahead and published on its website the decrees with the selection criteria for separate collection projects and recycling plants, for which €1.5 billion in funding is earmarked, and for circular economy flagship initiatives (costing around €600 million). There is also the decree approving the operational plan for an advanced and integrated hydrogeological risk monitoring and forecasting system (roughly €500 million earmarked, mainly concerning the South).
In addition to investments and reforms, the right human capital will be needed to ensure the success of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and a solid digital and ecological transition.
However, the chapter on reforms is still to be completed, in particular in the areas of ‘green’ gas, water and air pollution, which are crucial to pave the way for investments.
The government assures that all targets will be completed by the end of the year, as agreed with the European Commission.
However, getting every single euro cent available will not be enough to make the National Recovery and Resilience Plan successful. In addition to investments and reforms scheduled in Rome’s agenda, the right human capital will be needed to ensure a solid digital and ecological transition. And most importantly, we need to create new skills and new digital and green professional profiles, something that is currently lacking in Italy.
According to the white paper published by The Adecco Group, entitled “Re-Start Generation: job prospects for women and young people in the light of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, and new skills, between green challenges and the digital revolution”, this plan will make it possible to create 380,000 new jobs for women and 81,000 new jobs for young people. However, everything hinges on building the right skills and active policies to meet the demand for new jobs that will emerge through this plan.
In the words of Andrea Malacrida, Managing Director of the Adecco Group in Italy, “the common denominator across the six missions in the plan is work. For each mission, we have to construct the concrete content through the human resources who will ultimately implement it”.