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Government to invest more than €1 bn to bail out and nationalize Ilva steel plant

by Matteo Meneghello

Renzi’s government has given the green light for the nationalization of Ilva of Taranto. The Cabinet, convened on Christmas Eve, has officially announced the bailout scheme studied in recent weeks to give a future to Italy’s largest steel plant. The final draft of the decree will be ready by the end of the year. The procedure will start in mid-January to allow the current commissioner, Piero Gnudi, the payment of salaries for December, as well as entitlements to suppliers.

Ilva has faced criticisms over its environmental record and was partially closed in 2012. Toxic emissions from the Ilva plant have been blamed for unusually high rates of cancer in the Tamburi area of the southern Italian city.

The prime minister Matteo Renzi stated that “the environmental clearance and restructuring will cost, at a rough estimate, about a billion and a few hundred million euros.” A lower sum than the estimated €1.8 billion so far. According to early rumors on the decree, however, the government did not make any change to the environmental requirements introduced by the Integrated Environmental Authorisation (Aia -Autorizzazione integrata ambientale) and confirmed with the environmental plan approved by the Decree of the President of the Council of Ministers last spring, but limited itself to define a different timetable.

The sum announced by the Prime Minister - probably attributable to the funds seized in 2013 to Adriano and Emilio Riva for alleged tax and currency offences, then transferred to Ilva following the decision of the investigating judge in Milan, Fabrizio D'Arcangelo, despite an appeal by Adriano Riva - would be added to the approximately €500 million funds already spent or committed. The latter may include those relating to the coverage of mining parks, for which the environmental impact assessment was successfully concluded, and that are waiting for the authorization decrees by the Ministry of the Environment.

The decree will give the special commissioner “the necessary powers” to implement Aia's requirements and entrust him the sums seized to Ilva which will flow “in special accounts.”