Markets & Policies

The Pipeline of Contention: the Green Light to TAP Sparks Criticism in Italy

The Italian Prime Minister has given the green light to the TAP, but the governments seems more divided than ever and uncapable of establishing ad following a common energy strategy.

"TAP Italy"

On the 25th of October, the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has given the green light for the completion of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) in Italy.

The TAP, that is the third and last pipeline of the Southern Gas Corridor used to bring Azeri gas to Italy’s southern region Puglia by 2020, has met the opposition of many.
Besides the citizens of Puglia, understandably concerned about the repercussions of the infrastructure on the territory and tourism, and many environmentalists, Italian politicians have been engaged in a very lively debate as well.

A Divisive Project

The coalition leading the Italian government has been highly divided on whether the TAP can be an advantage for Italy’s energy market or a tremendous mistake.

The Northern League, one of the two parties of the coalition supports the first position.
According to Matteo Salvini, leader of the right wing party and Italian Minister of Interior, the TAP will greatly benefit Italian consumers, by cutting the price of gas by 10%.
His support to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline has not faded despite the strong opposition voiced by the other member of the coalition, the Five Star Movement (M5S).

Defining the TAP as a useless and harmful infrastructure, the M5S has promised during the electoral campaign that it would have blocked the construction of the pipeline, gaining the support of its most fervent opponents.

No Real Decision To Be Made

The green light of the government comes right after the communication of the Minister of Environment, Sergio Costa, that the evaluation of legitimacy recently completed has shown no sources of illegitimacy, exactly as it did the one conducted in 2014 by the previous government, that approved the project.
As to respond in a preventive way to any criticism, Costa stressed that the final decision is not linked in any way to its personal beliefs. He himself was among the detractors of the TAP, defining it as environmentally harmful.

The decision sparked a strong criticism, especially in Puglia, where the local authorities promised that they will keep fighting this project by any legal means at their disposal.

Now, not even after the decision is taken the government shows unanimity.

While Matteo Salvini was crying victory, Luigi di Maio stated that no real decision was there, as the current government has no power to reverse a decision made by the previous one, unless by paying a penalty of about 20 billion euros.

Actually, there seems to be no penalty after all. But if the project is stopped right now, when 80.7% of it is already completed, the other actors involved in it will claim compensation, as it normally would be.

No Unanimity, No Strategy

Besides the not-so-shocking fact that something promised during an electoral campaign is not delivered after elections, what is very problematic here is that the absence of an energy strategy during the campaign is still there today.

And rather surprisingly the coalition forces do not seem very engaged in the effort of finding a common ground even in crucial issues as the energy strategy to adopt.