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BIPR | SAIS Europe 69th Anniversary Lecture - The Big Gamble: The National Recovery & Resilience Plan and Italy in the EU
SAIS Europe 69th Anniversary Lecture - The Big Gamble: The National Recovery & Resilience Plan and Italy in the EU

February 19, 2024 - 18:30

Tito Boeri, Bocconi University

Event Recap

Recently installed SAIS Europe Rector Renaud Dehousse joined the Bologna Institute for Policy Research, faculty, students, and other members of the SAIS community to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Johns Hopkins University Bologna Center, which was inaugurated on February 22, 1955.

To mark the occasion, the SAIS Europe community welcomed Professor Tito Boeri, the head of the economics department at Bocconi University in Milan and a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. During his career, Professor Boeri has served as a senior economist for the OECD, as a consultant for the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the European Union, and the Italian Government and as the head of Italy's social security system (Istituto Nazionale Previdenza Sociale).

During his remarks, Professor Boeri discussed the funds Italy received from the EU as part of the National Recovery & Resilience Plan and addressed the challenges it has faced in administering them. He discussed how, despite the 2022-23 windfalls, Italy's GDP is expected to underperform its Euro Area partners in 2024. He also raised the question of how this "great abundance" of recovery funds could have become a "great shortage" in just a few years.

To answer this question, Professor Boeri pointed to several factors that exacerbated Italy's challenges in administering the funds it received from the European Union. Among them he highlighted the unimpeded flow of funds from Brussels to an inexperienced and "greedy" Italian government. This led to a situation in which Italy received too much money with no plan on how to spend it.

As Professor Boeri pointed out, this lack of a plan was reflected in the way Italy implemented the reforms it had committed to during the planning of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. In civil justice, for example, waves of new hires were expected to handle an extensive existing backlog of cases. These new hires, however, were ill-equipped to handle the backlog and eventually left for other roles. In education, funds targeted digital transformation. They failed to address other critical issues, such as recruitment and careers of teachers, and the provision of much-needed nursery schools. Even in public administration, which Professor Boeri noted is a particularly important source of employment for young Italians joining the workforce, reforms failed to spark improvement.

Now, as Professor Boeri noted, it is unclear exactly where Italy is in its implementation of the National Recovery & Resilience Plan. This will delay the Plan's progress as officials evaluate the ways in which funds are used. Faced with these challenges, it is possible the Italian government will need to renegotiate the plan's timing and scope with the European Commission.

As Italy looks to draw lessons from this saga, Professor Boeri underscored the need for the government to refocus its approach on addressing the nation's demographic decline, investing in human capital, and investing in legal immigration to make Italy's social security system more sustainable. Furthermore, Italy should make structural investments in homecare and daycare to help families struggling to handle the individual effects of the nation's demographic decline. According to Professor Boeri, such policies will have beneficial long-term effects that could foster economic growth.



SAIS Europe 69th Anniversary Lecture - The Big Gamble: The National Recovery & Resilience Plan and Italy in the EU

hosted by Professor Renaud Dehousse

Tito Boeri
Bocconi University

SAIS Europe 69th Anniversary

The Bologna Center of the Johns University, now SAIS Europe, inauguration was celebrated on February 22, 1955. More than a thousand guests attended the event, held in the University of Bologna Aula Magna, with stately medieval pomp, and a procession of dignitaries.

With four professors, 10 students, and borrowed classrooms, Professor C. Grove Haines launched an experiment in international education. Haine's vision was to offer these students the experience of living and studying together under a multinational faculty in an international environment, thereby encouraging cross-cultural communication and fostering collaboration among world leaders.

Today, SAIS Europe students, trained under a multinational, multidisciplinary faculty, continue to form lifelong friendships and professional connections that sustain them through careers as leaders in all sectors of international affairs worldwide.

The 69th anniversary celebrates Haines' vision and the center's 8,500 alumni from 129 nations — ambassadors of Bologna and of SAIS Europe in the world.

TITO BOERI

Tito Boeri is Professor and Head of the Economics Department at Bocconi University in Milan, where he was also Pro-rector for research until fall 2014, and Senior Visiting Professor at the London School of Economics, where he was Centennial Professor.

Boeri has been senior economist at the OECD, consultant to the IMF, World Bank, EU, ILO and to the Italian Government. From March 2015 to February 2019 he served as President of INPS. He is Scientific Advisor to the Fondazione Ing. Rodolfo Debenedetti, is a columnist for La Repubblica and has collaborated with Italian and foreign newspapers, including Il Sole24ore, La Stampa, the Financial Times and Le Monde. Boeri is one of the founders of the economic information website www.lavoce.info and the federated English-language website www.voxeu.org. He is the scientific director of the Turin Festival of Economics.
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