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The MFA at work for “System Italy” – Valensise presents the 2013 Yearbook: initiatives and results

“A government department that costs the state very little” but which, in spite of the cuts, is managing to meet the growing demand for services in Italy and throughout the world. This was one of the key features to emerge from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Statistical Yearbook for 2013, edited by Sabrina Ugolini, Head of the Statistics Office. The Yearbook was presented to the public for the first time at the Farnesina today, 10 July 2013. It consists of a comprehensive “compendium” of all the work of the Ministry: international relations, passports and visas, the promotion of Italian culture, the Crisis Unit’s emergency response work, and protection and assistance for Italian nationals abroad.


Farnesina budget for 2013 amounts to just 0.21% of state spending. We’re a virtuous ministry, says Valensise


With a budget 1,610 million euros for 2013 (which, with the addition of Official Development Aid, rises to 1,837 million), the Foreign Ministry accounts for 0.21% of the state budget – a lower percentage than for some of our counterparts abroad: United States (0.49%), Germany (1.15%), Spain (0.37%) and Canada (0.93%).


The Yearbook was presented publicly to respond to the Farnesina’s public transparency criteria. It illustrates “a virtuous administration, viewed at system level, which costs very little and provides numerous important services and resources”, underscored the MFA’s Secretary General, Michele Valensise.


Italy has the world’s 4th-largest diplomatic network


Another fact to emerge from the Yearbook is that Italy has the world’s fourth-largest diplomatic network (after France, Great Britain and the Russian Federation). This is thanks to its 319 offices abroad and in spite of the “constant cuts” in staffing (7700 employees in 2012). Cuts that are becoming increasingly difficult to sustain, in view of the growing demand for services, observed the Head of the Coordination Unit, Luigi Vignali, who also remarked on the Ministry’s strictly international work. In 2012 Italy hosted 250 meetings, took part in 69 international meetings and engaged in 72 bilateral visits abroad.


1,872,394 visas issued in 2012 – further rise expected for Expo 2015 in Milan


Visas are important to our economic diplomacy work. 1,872,394 were issued in 2012 (up 9% on the previous year), bringing 93 million to the state coffers. Russia, China and Turkey were the leading 3 countries in terms of visas issued, a large majority of which were for tourism purposes (over 1.36 million), followed by business (about 202,000). The number of visas issued for employment reasons fell. However, total visas issued are expected to rise by 6-700,000 as a result of Expo 2015, bringing over 36 million euros in additional revenue.


Italian Development Cooperation is bucking the downwards funding trend, with an increase of over 100 million euros in Official Development Aid (which sees Afghanistan as the leading beneficiary). The work of the Crisis Unit has grown, with 1062 interventions in 2012. So to has our activity promoting our culture throughout the world, with 324,148 people enrolled in Italian language and culture courses abroad.


Italy’s global presence is considerable in numerical terms too, with over 4,662 million Italians recorded in the Consular network’s Register Office system in 2012.