“Sanctions against Russia will do more damage in Italy” | Economy

Italian Labor Minister Andrea Orlando.
Italian Labor Minister Andrea Orlando.Antonello Nusca

The Italian Labor Minister, Andrea Orlando (La Spezia, 53 years old), is a seasoned politician and an expert in government tasks who has already held the Ministries of Justice and the Environment in two previous executives. Today he holds an important portfolio in the coalition government chaired by Mario Draghi and is deputy secretary of the Democratic Party, which allows him to have a good understanding of the dynamics of the world of the left, where he began as a member of the Communist Party. An orbit that he shares with his Spanish counterpart, Yolanda Díaz, with whom he will meet this Thursday in the framework of the celebration of the ten years of the Social Economy Law. A new appointment, which will also be attended by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, which will allow various common fronts to be greased to change labor policies in the European Union.

Ask. On Thursday he will be in Madrid with the Second Vice President of the Government and Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz. Both have made a common front to request a new SURE fund to face the transition to the new work models. At what point is it?

Answer. We are facing structural changes in the economy with an asymmetric impact on each reality, but they respond to common objectives such as the digital and ecological transition. That is why we want to build instruments that allow us to reduce their impact. And it makes even more sense now with the war. The issue is how to make structural what we have experienced during the pandemic and have proven to work, like SURE. It has been an instrument without which many countries would have lost productive capacity.

P. The first reaction has not been the best, especially from some frugal countries.

R. But we have begun to find a willingness to debate. Yesterday we began with a bilateral agreement with the German government, which has always viewed common funds with common debt with great mistrust. And we find greater disposition and attention. There was a discussion about the impact that the war can have on the labor market and on the economy. And there is an awareness that many things will have to be adjusted. The Commission has to see what role each one has: to welcome the refugees and to introduce elements that help the economy, which will also suffer from the sanctions.

P. Things have also changed in the vision of welcoming refugees.

He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.


R. It was very significant that the countries that have always rejected common management of migratory flows and reception are now asking for exactly that. This is not the time for controversy, but those who held ultra-nationalist positions are now asking that the action should be common only because the problem is greater in their territory. And we won’t look the other way because they did then: if we don’t help, there will be a domino effect.

P. Will it be a turning point for Europe?

R. I have confidence in humanity, but it is not always so. We have seen this with the pandemic: many things have not changed, such as the position of the frugal, of the sovereignists of Eastern Europe… The war challenges Europe again, we hope that it consolidates the conviction that we can only provide structurally common responses.

P. What impact will the war have on the labor market in Italy?

R. Very big, because it is a transforming country. We import energy with a mix gas-oriented and we have no raw materials. In addition, it has a large percentage of export to Ukraine and Russia. The penalties are the same for everyone, but they do not cost the same. In Italy they will do more damage to the economy. We do not ask for privileged treatment, because cohesion is fundamental. But there are common instruments to deal with them and new budget rules.

P. Funds that offset the impact of sanctions?

R. Absolutely. We’ll have to think of something like the Recovery Plan. It was an instrument that did not take into account the shock from the war. But the new instrument would clash with the old rules of the Stability Pact, so we cannot go back to that.

P. Was Italy too promiscuous with Russia?

R. Italy lives from exports and has no energy. It conquered new markets and bought energy where it was easier to do so. Especially after the instability of the Mediterranean. It is not a fault, but a necessity. But today it must be reviewed in the light of what is happening. We must speed up the energy transition. The effort that Spain has made with renewables is an example.

P. How will all the incoming Ukrainian refugees be introduced to the labor market?

R. We have done everything necessary for them to access placement instruments and active policies. The problem is that these are basically women with children. So the real help if we want them to work is to give them access to childcare and schools. With women, a general problem is amplified: how to combine the management, in this dramatic case, of family life with that of access to work. We hope that this extreme case will also serve to take charge of this issue at all levels. But there has to be a general response that counteracts the precariousness that punishes young people and women.

P. Precariousness today is also marked by the change in the digital model. How do you regulate a market where your boss is an algorithm?

R. Together with Spain, we are pushing for a European directive on platform workers. In Italy we have managed to establish a trade union presence on a large platform like Amazon. We are looking for two things: instruments to protect workers and reinforcement of traditional tools. In Italy, the number of workers on behalf of a platform broker has doubled. It’s not just the so-called riderswill increasingly have to do with artisan manual work, professionals…

P. What do you think of the labor reform that has been approved in Spain?

R. Its objective was to limit precariousness and in our country, despite the fact that the data on this matter is half, it would bring significant results. But our problem today is that a debate of this type with a government majority with parties from the right and left is very difficult. But all the steps that eliminate forms of precariousness are necessary.

P. Do you like the political style of Yolanda Díaz?

R. It embodies the idea of ​​a radical left, but not an ideological one. It is a fundamental asset within a plural left. Looking at our country, I often think that the lack of that proposal has favored many right-wing populisms. In Italy the explosion of a certain type of populism is due in part to a reformist left identified with the establishment and to a radical left that seemed too ideological.

P. Do you see her leading a political option with the possibility of presiding over the country?

R. It’s hard to tell from Italy. It is without a doubt a voice heard in the European context where I have met it. He has a very effective and concrete proposal capacity. I think he can be an important figure for the radical left and also a reference to the entire left.

P. Is Draghi becoming a reference for the progressive world in Italy?

R. I think that the progressive forces should have the ambition to build their own profile. Draghi is an asset to the whole country and has taken the step to face an emergency. It could still be necessary if we have to face another situation of this type, with a broader deployment of the progressive: stop a sovereignist and anti-European-inspired right.

P. Will this government be able to resist until the end of the legislature?

R. I still see unjustifiable attacks and movements. But I still think that no one at this point will have the courage to break it. But that does not make it less serious that daily obstacles are placed to the action of the Executive. We need a government that reaches the elections, but also that can act in a difficult period like this.

P. What do you think when you see Salvini on the border with Ukraine making a fool of himself with a mayor and saying now that he wants to help the refugees?

R. Well… first of all, it doesn’t have a high-level team. But also that it seeks in some way to hide a fascination of the entire European extreme right for the Putin model. That trip is another attempt to camouflage that.

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