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Commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the Marcinelle disaster – Message from Minister Di Maio

Dear fellow Italians abroad,

It is with heart-felt feelings that I join the commemoration of the tragedy in which 262 workers, including 136 Italians, lost their lives 66 years ago.

On this occasion, allow me to renew the Institutions’ sympathy for the families of the citizens who fell at Marcinelle and pay homage to all the Italians who, while honouring our Country abroad, tragically found their death on the job. It is in their memory that every year we celebrate the National Day of the Sacrifice of Italian Workers in the World (“Giornata nazionale del sacrificio del lavoro italiano nel mondo”), proclaimed on the symbolic date of the 8th of August, to honour the victims of Marcinelle.

The disaster of Bois du Cazier, as well as all the other tragic events that have marked the history of Italian emigration, reminds us that individual human dignity cannot do without the protection of rights, dignity, and safety on the job. It is primarily the responsibility of Institutions to foster the right to work and to participate in the Country’s economic, social, and political organisation enshrined in our Constitution.

These values and responsibilities are also the basis for the European integration project that was relaunched precisely thirty years ago with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty. Drawing inspiration from the courage and experience of the many emigrants who gave material proof of the union and brotherhood that exist between the peoples of Europe, on the 7th of February 1992, twelve Countries, including Italy, lay another brick in the construction of our European home.

Today, thirty years after having taken this big step, new challenges entreat us to continue the European integration process all the more vigorously. The fallout from the Ukrainian crisis, the post-pandemic recovery, climate change, and the migration phenomenon push us not only to heighten the spirit of solidarity and communion of intent between Member States, but also to renew our commitment towards a co-existence and growth model primarily based on respect for individuals, their dignity, and their rights. It is with this spirit that Italy actively participated in the proceedings of the Conference on the Future of Europe, a valuable dialogue opportunity between Institutions and citizens which revealed the need to add momentum to the European Union’s social and employment policies, in the perspective of growingly sustainable growth and development.

The challenges and opportunities raised by the twin green and digital transitions show the importance of the social and human dimension of work, a source of self-realisation and growth for single individuals and for the society at large. Italy, together with the European Union, is committed to providing shared and tangible solutions through the “NextGenerationEU” fund and the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan.

My dear fellow Italians,

On this occasion, my thought also stretches out to all the Italians who, with great self-sacrifice, have left Italy; to their offspring; to the many professionals, students, entrepreneurs, and researchers, the representatives of the “new mobility” who, albeit from afar, contribute to the growth of Italy. You – Italians in the world – daily contribute to disseminate the best image of our Country and are a vital and very valuable element thereof. It is to you that I extend my most heart-felt thanks.  

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