The idea of transforming the whole of Southern Italy into a single large Special Economic Zone, with low taxation and reduced bureaucracy, as proposed by Minister Raffaele Fitto to the European Commission, appears as suggestive as it is exciting, but risks being yet another illusion for the South and its productive and industrial fabric. The risk arises both from the objective and regulatory impossibility for the European Commission to authorize permanent tax breaks throughout Southern Italy, and from the very logic of the Zes, imagined to be a "derogation" or an "exception" to the general rules, not a rule themselves. A little overview of the story may help to understand. In Italy today there are 8 special economic zones, made up of industrial areas close to or functionally connected to as many ports in the South, by virtue of an institutive law of 2017 strongly desired by the then Minister for the South Claudio De Vincenti to replicate the successful model of the Polish Zes. After a slow start, there was an acceleration with the Draghi government, thanks to the allocation of Pnrr funds and a governance reform promoted by Minister Mara Carfagna, first of all with the introduction of a single authorization for private investments issued to applicant companies by the commissioners of the individual Zes and then with the effective appointment of all 8 commissioners and their staff. Equipped with meager structures and few funds, the commissioners began to work and the world became aware of the Italian Zes. They are not the panacea for the problems of productivity and attractiveness of the South, but they allow tax advantages and decision-making speed that is sometimes unknown in these latitudes, encouraging the birth of real industrial districts whose very existence can act as a driving force for new investments. A virtuous example to be nurtured and transformed into good practices for the administrative machinery of the regions and local bodies as a whole, so much so that over time the expectations of the central-northern regions to also have special economic zones have flourished.
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