Italy's PM says he will not bend on Ilva steel plant dispute

By Giancarlo Navach and Giuseppe Fonte MILAN (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday he would not allow ArcelorMittal to pull out of its acquisition of troubled steel plant Ilva, as the threat of huge job losses piled pressure on the government. ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, announced on Monday it was scrapping a deal to buy Ilva's site in the southern city of Taranto after Rome reneged on a pledge to grant immunity from prosecution over environmental damage in the area

Reuters November 06, 2019 00:07:07 IST
Italy's PM says he will not bend on Ilva steel plant dispute

Italys PM says he will not bend on Ilva steel plant dispute

By Giancarlo Navach and Giuseppe Fonte

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Tuesday he would not allow ArcelorMittal to pull out of its acquisition of troubled steel plant Ilva, as the threat of huge job losses piled pressure on the government.

ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, announced on Monday it was scrapping a deal to buy Ilva's site in the southern city of Taranto after Rome reneged on a pledge to grant immunity from prosecution over environmental damage in the area.

The government says the Amsterdam-listed steel group has no basis to withdraw from a contract it finalised last year and has accused the company of using the immunity issue as a pretext to walk away from Ilva because it is running up heavy losses there.

"A contract was agreed and we won't bend on this. We expect that commitments be respected," Conte told reporters in Milan.

Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli accused ArcelorMittal of trying to blackmail the country, but suggested the government might be ready to issue a decree that spelt out existing legal protections that are already provided by Italy's constitution.

"We can consider a norm which explains this principle that is already enshrined in our legal system... without making up any specially tailored rules for ArcelorMittal," he said.

The euro zone's third-largest economy has been broadly stagnant for the last seven quarters, and Ilva's problems have added to worries about Italy's eroding industrial base.

The ruling coalition between the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement has come under heavy pressure following ArcelorMittal's decision to scrap the Ilva contract.

Opposition parties have accused the government of driving away foreign investors and undermining an area with some of the highest levels of unemployment in the country.

In addition to around 8,000 workers in Taranto, thousands more jobs depend indirectly on the plant, one of a shrinking number of large-scale industrial employers left in the south.

On Tuesday, PD chief Nicola Zingaretti said his party would propose measures to ensure that any buyer would not be liable for environmental damage caused under previous management.

"Anyone who pollutes should pay, but a group implementing an environmental plan should not have penal liability for previous actions for which it had no responsibility," he said.

However it was not clear whether that would be enough to save the plant, which has been blamed for hundreds of cancer-related deaths in recent years.

Some 5-Star Movement lawmakers, who led the drive to remove ArcelorMittal's immunity, warned they would not support a u-turn, setting up a possible clash within the coalition.

Former Industry Minister Carlo Calenda, who led the bulk of the negotiations with ArcelorMittal, accused the government of acting irresponsibly.

"They are a bunch of amateurs who have never worked outside politics for a single day. They don't know what a factory is. They don't know what it costs to do things... The right word for them is charlatans," he told Radio 24.

(Reporting by Giancarlo Navach in Milan and Giuseppe Fonte in Rome; Writing by Crispian Balmer and James Mackenzie; Editing by Jan Harvey)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Water cannon fired at Frankfurt anti-lockdown rally
World

Water cannon fired at Frankfurt anti-lockdown rally

MUNICH/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German police fired water cannon during an anti-lockdown rally in Frankfurt on Saturday and eventually broke up the gathering as rules like wearing masks and socially distancing were not observed. About 600 people from the loosely organized Querdenker movement that opposes the government’s measures to halt the rise in coronavirus infections took to the streets in Frankfurt.

Marie Antoinette's silk shoe goes up for sale in Versailles
World

Marie Antoinette's silk shoe goes up for sale in Versailles

By Christian Hartmann PARIS (Reuters) - A silk shoe that belonged to Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France who was executed during the French Revolution, will go up for auction on Sunday - with a starting price of 10,000 euros ($11,800).

Thai king calls for unity after protesters turn back on motorcade
World

Thai king calls for unity after protesters turn back on motorcade

By Juarawee Kittisilpa and Matthew Tostevin BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's King Maha Vajiralongkorn told well-wishers of the importance of unity as he marked the opening of a new railway line on Saturday, after thousands of protesters had turned their backs on his motorcade as it passed through central Bangkok. Around 2,500 demonstrators had gathered at the capital's Democracy Monument in the latest of months of protests against Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, demanding changes to the constitution as well as reforms of the monarchy. The protesters draped the centrepiece of the monument, which has become a rallying point for the protests, in a cloth covered in grievances and insults