President of Italy’s association representing manufacturing and service companies, Confindustria, says Ukraine war is accelerating a process already underway.
In an interview with Italian newspaper Repubblica, the President of Confindustria, Carlo Bonomi said, “We are in a perfect storm. The war is accelerating a process that is already underway: the slowdown in the economic recovery began in September, the lack of an energy policy strategy dates back to decades ago and there have been reforms that have been standing still for thirty years. Now we need radical interventions ”.
“For energy-intensive factories it is truly an unprecedented crisis. The steel mills have begun to suspend production, soon it will also be the turn of the ceramics and paper mills sector. They are temporary stops”, he clarified, “but the unsustainable prices create a domino effect that can lead the industrial system as a whole to ask for 400 million hours of layoffs, if we compare the current situation with that of previous years.
“An enormous figure, which we are putting forward not out of alarmism, but to generate awareness ”. And he stressed that if the cost of energy continues like this “the alternative is to produce by accentuating the losses; without anyone having so far acknowledged that the industry has not passed on the costs to consumers, as is the case in Germany and France”.
Italian companies in Russia unprotected
The President also reflected on the strategic errors in energy policy made in the past. He recalled the crisis in Crimea in 2014 in which Europe invited member countries to reduce dependence on Russian gas, while Italy it did the opposite by doubling the supply.
“For decades, according to politics, Russia was a friendly and reliable country. And now the bill is presented to companies”. Bonomi added that “politics and finance pushed companies with great incentives to go and invest in Russia. But today, who protects those 447 Italian companies that invoice about €7.4 billion in Russia and have an investment stock of €11 billion?
“If companies have to bear the weight of sanctions, it is good for our country to act “, said Bonomi. He indicated how it is necessary to “modify our energy mix, invest in research and new technologies to accompany the energy transition and extend the time needed to reach the goal of zero emissions”.