Rome - Meetings continue to be positive, the minister is listening to everyone, but there is still no solution for the future of ILVA and one will not come soon. The Deputy Prime Minister himself, Luigi Di Maio, made this clear when, at the end of a busy day of face-to-face meetings about the steelworks, he announced further work is needed and covered himself, saying: “We don’t have superpowers, but we are putting all our efforts behind this”. On the other hand, he also said, “I’m being asked to resolve a problem that has been lingering for six years in 15 days.” A meeting with ArcelorMittal’s top management - who are urging him to hurry up as they are ready to finalise the purchase within the agreed period and be operational from 1 July 2018 - was not enough to fully clarify the situation such that the Minister of Economic Development might take a definitive decision on the fate of the factory. The buzzword from all the meetings during this second day on the ILVA issue was “listening”. Minister Di Maio spoke little, but heard everything that Confindustria, the environmental associations from Taranto, consumers and ArcelorMittal had to say to him.
This propensity to listen was welcomed by the President of Confindustria, Vincenzo Boccia, who described the meeting (the first official meeting with the Minister of Labour and Economic Development) as “very healthy from the point of view of discussion”, appreciating that Luigi Di Maio was interested in considering the matter in depth. The environmentalists from Taranto were also quite pleased, having arrived in Rome with one opinion and with only one request: the closure of the factory, economic conversion, safeguarding of incomes, reclamation and health protection. For the moment, Minister Di Maio has not yet given any definite answers, but he has given reassurance: “the citizens of Taranto have the right to breathe and I want to guarantee it.” The Deputy Prime Minister also apologized to the people of Taranto for not being able to meet up with them there - because of his tight schedule - but he promised to “stay in touch, because important decisions will be taken in the coming days and weeks, and you will be a part of them.”
The Minister knows that time is running out, as ArcelorMittal reminded him by announcing that it is willing and wants to start implementing the environmental and industrial plans for ILVA as soon as possible. To this effect, the company has committed a total investment of €4.2 billion which includes over €1.1 billion in capital for the environment, over €1.2 billion (capital again) for expenses in the industrial sector to cover deferred maintenance costs and to make a substantial program of investments in blast furnaces and steel production plants, and finally, €1.8 billion in consideration for the acquisition itself.