Italian PM Hedges Position on TAP
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte held a meeting August 2 with the mayor of Melendugno, among the fiercest opponents of Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) being built onshore Italy.
The meeting on August 2 followed a pledge two months earlier by one of his ministers to review whether TAP in Italy should go ahead. Conte though was much more cautious, talking of "legal commitments."
"I had a long discussion with the mayor of Melendugno, Marco Potì, accompanied by technical and legal consultants who represented some critical aspects of the TAP project," said Conte in his Aug.2 statement: "At the end of this exchange, I assured them that this government will carry out a thorough evaluation of all the reported aspects and a careful recognition of the activities carried out so far. Obviously I also made clear that there are legal commitments already approved by the previous government."
Conte, a political independent, heads a coalition government between the populist Five Star movement and the right-wing League. On June 6 Italy’s new environment minister Sergio Costa, shortly after the new coalition took office, promised that that Italian involvement in the TAP would be reviewed. Costa is close to the Five Star movement headed by Luigi di Maio, Italy's economic development minister.
TAP is the final stage of the 3,500-km Southern Gas Corridor to flow Azeri gas from 2020 to the European Union, principally Italy; the company developing TAP has emphasised its benefits to Italy.
Issues relating to development in southeast Italy however have been overshadowed in recent days by the deaths of at least 38 people, with up to 20 still missing, in a major bridge collapse on August 14 in the northwest Italian port city of Genoa. The government has declared August 18 a day of mourning and 'national struggle for the victims' of the bridge collapse. The disaster has pushed up the political agenda the issue of whether Italian infrastructure – particularly roads and bridges – has been properly maintained in recent years, with the government – and Five Star in particular – targeting the bridge's operator.
Italian PM Giuseppe Conte (credit: government)