Bari, 23 June
(The authentic text is only the one actually delivered)
Illustrious Rector Prof Emanuele Degennaro,
President Michele Emiliano,
President Vincenzo De Luca,
Dear Colleagues and Undersecretaries, Dear Students, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The name of this magnificent University recalls the Mediterranean and pays homage to Jean Monnet, one of Europe’s founding fathers. I think it is important to underscore it: our South is Europe’s most beautiful window on the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean’s best window on Europe.
The South 4.0 that I have in mind has the brain and heart of the Mediterranean.
Since the beginning of my mandate as foreign minister, I have worked to put the Mediterranean back on the map of Europe’s foreign policy. Because it is the Mediterranean that holds the stakes of Europe and – closer to us – of our South.
I have committed to put the Mediterranean back on the map of Europe’s foreign policy for two reasons: I certainly did it for security reasons, but also for the reason of prosperity, for the opportunities offered by the Mediterranean.
Today’s instability in the Mediterranean is like a “warm sirocco wind” blowing on the “fire of populists and demagogues”. Italy and Europe must continue to contribute to solving the crises in North Africa in order to avoid passing the matter of security and immigration in the hands of populists, over which they are only capable of spreading fear.
We must face the crisis in the Mediterranean knowing that it is a sea full of opportunities: a regional market of almost 500 consumers that produces 10% of the world’s GDP; crossed by 20% of global maritime traffic and 30% of the world’s trading in oil.
In the Mediterranean, the objective of Italy’s economic diplomacy is to achieve an ever-more integrated market, with priority given to energy and infrastructure, in order to relaunch the Mediterranean as a global economic Hub. And South 4.0 is necessarily the crux of this vision.
Today we talk of South 4.0 but let us not forget that Puglia contributed to this industrial revolution since the very start, with South 1.0! Those were the times of the very first innovations applied to agriculture.
It was in 1808 that Napoleon appointed Joachim Murat king of Naples. He was not an aristocrat but the son of hoteliers with a knack for business. In Puglia, Murat was the first to introduce the principle of mechanics in the harvesting and pressing of olives. Machines, mills, and wagons for transport.
In the Mediterranean, industrial oil production was greatly boosted and it was during that period that the seed of innovation pervaded the transport and engine design industry.
Today Puglia is the Mediterranean’s new development model. This Region’s traditional sectors that we love so much, such as agriculture and tourism, coexist with the most innovative sectors such as the aerospace technology, mechatronics, nanotechnology and ICT services.
Thanks to its points of excellence and to the initiatives of its entrepreneurs, Puglia has indeed made great progress. Because in all these years of crisis, entrepreneurs have never stopped innovating and investing in technology, skills and know-how.
My thoughts go to the MERMEC in Monopoli. The Japanese, who are leaders in the sector of high-speed trains, have selected this company based in Puglia for the security systems of their high-speed trains.
Puglia is also one of the most generous regions in financial contributions to start-ups (in 2016 it allocated over 370 million euros to innovative companies). It is wonderful to see that there are young people, in Puglia, who stay in, or return to, their place of birth and set up successful start-ups.
Because it is young people, with their innovative ideas, who promote the 4.0 revolution!
I have read the story of Angelo Petrosillo and Luciano Belviso who, after graduating from university, created Blackshape, a company that produces aircrafts entirely made of carbon fibre. Today they are leaders in the sector and employ nearly 1,200 people.
Another peculiar piece of news: at the Bari G7 of Finance Ministers and at the Taormina G7 of the Heads of Government, a Bari-based start-up – Energy by Oscar – which was established a year ago by four 30-year-olds, was selected as a global point of excellence after recharging the smartphones, tablets and PCs of all the participants.
In Puglia, also agriculture is becoming 4.0! And it has recorded a surprising 10% rise in youth-managed farms. These are the farms that use spearheading techniques and technologies, and are committed to innovation and sustainability while remaining loyal to the concept of quality.
And allow me to recall the excellent collaboration between the Italian Development Cooperation service and Bari’s Mediterranean Agronomic Institute, a global point of excellence that promotes sustainable agriculture throughout the Mediterranean through research and training.
Placing young people back at the centre of the growth and development agenda is one of our top priorities. Despite growing GDP and economic recovery in the South of Italy, which is running faster than in the rest of Italy, including in terms of employment, the prolonged crisis has had devastating effects on too many youths.
We must invest more in training, entrepreneurship and access to the labour market. But we must also act more on companies to stimulate recruitments through greater tax cuts for those that hire young people.
Hiring young people is not only a foolproof investment but also a great investment for the future.
At the beginning of this year, precisely in order to invest in the best young achievers, I launched the Foreign Ministry’s Strategic Plan for the Internationalisation of Universities 2017/2020, also with the sponsorship of enterprises, with the aim of better interlinking training, entrepreneurship and access to the labour market.
The Plan indicates our geographical priorities and naturally, for us, the Mediterranean Countries remain a priority (in addition to the Balkans and new actions in China, India, USA, Argentina, Ethiopia, Iran, Israel and Mexico).
The internationalisation of our Universities is good for students but it is also good for companies because, from the most internationalised Universities, they will have a selection of the brightest students to choose from.
Another two of our priorities are investment and infrastructure. In the South, we do not only have the problem of the bridge across the strait. There is also the high-speed rail that stops in Campania and the need to invest in high-speed broadband connections. This gap in infrastructure and technology is holding us back.
But the citizens of the South want “high speed” also in taking decisions. We need 4.0 in politics too! Especially now that growth is giving us a little respite and we can make new investments.
This morning, in the meeting with entrepreneurs, I reminded them of the Government’s sincere commitment to make a “quantum leap”: the “Destination Italy” investment programme, the Jobs Act, the reforms of the civil judicial system, the modernisation of the public administration, a more transparent and predictable tax revenue system and, naturally, the Business Plan 4.0.
Europe too stands on our side in helping the South: European resources, compounded with national co-funding, amount to more than 51 billion euros. To those who criticise Europe I would like to say that Europe is not the problem but part of the solution. Europe wants to invest in the South but it is also up to us to improve our investment policies and make them more effective.
As I said at the outset, the aim is mainly to integrate the South into a bigger regional market, spanning from the Mediterranean to the Adriatic. On 12 July, Italy will host the Western Balkans Summit in Trieste. It will be an opportunity to step up investing in infrastructure in order to link this area to Puglia and the rest of the South.
With the aim of promoting foreign investment in Italy, I organised “Invest in Italy”, a conference for investors that was held at the Farnesina last 13 June. I am happy that many investors are already aware of the great progress made by Italy: a growing number of multinationals is taking interest in our market; we are back on the radar of major sovereign and international funds; and we are climbing the ranking of global investment indexes, also in terms of business climate. For example, Apple has chosen Naples to open the first App iOS Development Centre in Europe.
But more can and must be done. Allow me to once again list the Foreign Ministry’s important achievements:
- Business visas released in 72 hours;
- New Start-up and Investor Visas;
- Opening a Foreign Investment Office, which is to become the Foreign Ministry’s point of reference for foreign companies looking at Italy;
- In cooperation with the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) and with the ICE Foreign Trade Agency, we have opened 7 new Desks operating in Istanbul, London, New York, Singapore, Tokyo, Dubai and San Francisco, aimed at attracting foreign investments. Another two Desks will shortly be opened in Beijing and Hong Kong.
Ever since the beginning of my mandate at the Foreign Ministry, I have built on economic diplomacy to reinforce and diversify its instruments.
I especially focused on the Mediterranean and on the South, which draw their wealth from a multifaceted cultural heritage and a different idea and expression of beauty. An extraordinary example of this is the fact that for centuries Puglia has been the Mediterranean’s gate to the Orient.
This is precisely what inspires our “Italian Way of Life” integrated promotion programme – that spans from the teaching of the language to design, from technology to art, from cuisine to archaeology – to capitalise on “Brand Italy” and defend it around the world: a brand made of beauty, creativity and technological know-how.
And also to bolster our exports, the Foreign Ministry and its network are working to implement the Extraordinary Plan for Made in Italy products with more than 300 million euros earmarked for the internationalisation of Italian companies, in addition to 50 million euros allocated through the new South Export Plan (Piano Export Sud – financed with European funds).
A few days ago at the Farnesina, I launched the Tourism Plan 2017/2022, which is intended to be a new instrument at the disposal of our economic diplomacy.
We want to continue attracting tourists to the most renowned cities and places. But we also want to promote less known destinations and rich untapped potential resources: the rural areas, ancient hamlets, small and medium-sized sanctuary cities and wildlife and marine parks. Puglia, for example, is very familiar with Russian tourists, who come to Bari to pay homage to the remains of Saint Nicholas.
The Tourism Plan focuses greater attention on the South: Puglia continues to be among the Southern regions that is recording the steepest hike in tourist arrivals and spending, together with Campania, Sicily and Molise. More than 3.5 million tourists visit Puglia every year.
We must grow with beauty. Allow me to dedicate a thought to Carla Fendi, who left us only a few days ago. She said: “I believe in the value of beauty, beauty as culture and culture as the lymph of life. And also as happiness because it lifts the spirit, is oxygen in a world that overwhelms us every day. It is my creed, and in this I focus all my energies.”
Exactly: we must continue putting all our energies at the service of Italy and its South, sometimes through self-sacrifice, but never deprived of the satisfaction of living in the most beautiful Country in the world.