ArcelorMittal wants to get rid of Italian steelworks

A year ago ArcelorMittal began leasing the Ilva steel plant in the city of Taranto in Italy with the obligation to buy it, but now the company wants to pull out of the deal, leaving the plant to face closure. ArcelorMittal's decision came after the Italian parliament scrapped a legal protection that the company deemed necessary for it to undertake environmental work at the plant without facing the risk of legal penalties. The press takes the politicians to task.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

The perfect alibi

The subsequent amendment to the legislation highlights the government's incompetence when it comes to industrial policy, economist Federico Fubini observes in Corriere della Sera:

“ArcelorMittal has been given the perfect alibi not only to withdraw from the steel plant, which was to employ 10,700 people, but also to shut it down. ... The Mittals were motivated to invest because they did not want to leave the production capacity in Taranto to a competitor, but rather to control it themselves. If they can now simply turn it off without it costing them anything - which the government has allowed by withdrawing the promised legal protection promises - this is more than a gift to the Indians. Such a mistake raises the question of whether there is anyone capable of coping with Italy's industrial crisis.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Incapable of taking clear decisions

The affair reinforces the impression that Italy's politicians and legal system can't be relied on, warns economist Marco Girardo in Avvenire:

“The 'shield against penalties' was first guaranteed and then withdrawn. Changing the rules in the middle of the game is symptomatic of the legal uncertainty, the misguided industrial policy and the false decisions that have led to southern Italy's economic decline in recent decades. ... The furnaces of Taranto will not be closed down by the legitimate decision to restructure and put the steelworks back into operation with a strong plan for public and private investment, but by the structural inability of the politicians to take decisions. At our cost.”