Italy’s Recovery and Resilience Plan: Lack of Communication Strategy
Author: Massimo Romagnoli, expert of European Funds, Government Relations, Public Affairs, Lobbying, Media Relations & Legal Affairs. CEO & Chairman of Progresso APM Consulting Srl.
Published on 31/01/2022
The majority of European countries have committed their effort to develop their communication strategy within their RRPs (Recovery and Resilience Plans) to make citizens aware of the opportunities of the NextGenerationEU.
On the contrary, Italydoes not seem to have the same attention for this matter.
At this stage, in Italy, it has been activated an institutional website called Italia Domani linked with several social network profiles. But still, a concrete strategy of structural communication is missing.
Among the 1000 new experts, recruited by the Italian government for the implementation of the national RRP, stands out the absence of communicators.
In its regulations and guidelines, the European Commission has called all the member states to include a communication strategy in their national RRP able to increase the awareness and confidence of European citizens in the greatest development plan ever approved in Europe since the Marshall Plan and to provide transparent information on how the EU funds will be invested.
The Italian government should engage consulting companies and communication experts to implement the institutional dispatch of information, hence mitigating the citizens’ distrust of European and national institutions fuelled by the pandemic. In the absence of prompt and transparent information, the national Recovery and Resilience Plan may turn into another occasion of wasting public money, fed by the negative narrative related to the Italian management of EU funds.
As a result, Euroscepticism could also find a fertile ground to grow and revitalize.
Although the Italian RRP obtained widespread consent among the population and extensive interest in the projects provided in the plan, Italy has liquidated its communication plan in a few lines, while most European countries seem to have taken up the challenge.
According to the research “Towards a Sustainable Recovery: Communication for the Recovery Plan and Corporations” edited by the International Corporate Communication Hub, around 63% of respondents see an extraordinary opportunity in the plan.
So far, the judgment on the communication put forward by the Italian government is even considered positive: over 38% perceive it as balanced, 32% as complete, 36% as objective, and 33% as accurate.
A large percentage of citizens (35%) claimed to be familiar with the content, even if are more those who admitted having a moderate knowledge of it (39%).
However, according to the results of a recent survey carried out by FPA in collaboration with Istituto Piepoli and conducted on a sample of 1,023 Italians, only 1 out of 10 believes that the national RRP has been effectively explained with transparency and clarity and the 28% do not even know what it is about.
In short, the data show the need for a long-term communication strategy, which is not limited to the launch phase of the plan alone.
The communication does not only concern the final beneficiaries of the NextGenerationEU, but also companies, central and local public administrations. They will be the primary actors who will participate in the calls financed by the national RRP and then will digitalize public services, design new energy infrastructures and public works, improve health, education and social inclusion.
By contrast, what approach has the other European countries had to the subject of communication of the national RRP?
Analyzing the national RRPs it is clear that most member states have devoted greater attention to the concern of dialogue with citizens, entrusting communication with a strategic role.
For example, France has provided a well-organized communication kit to inform citizens about its plan, so they can investigate every single activity financed with RRP funds. Not only that. Within the web section dedicated to the French RRP, there is also a dynamic map that reports the progress of the main projects.
Both Croatia and Poland have decided to focus on online and traditional media channels to reach a wider audience, older and less “digitized“.
Croatia has planned the organization of briefings and press conferences, regular thematic announcements, appearances of government’s members in daily information spaces on television, newspapers and radio, the organization of public events, the production and dissemination of promotional videos.
Poland has gone even further: throughout the territory will be provided information spots where citizens and businesses will have accurate details on the RRP’s calls, whereas the epidemiological situation will allow it.
Furthermore, Cyprus will invest 1 million to implement multi-channel communication strategies. The Slovenian plan explicitly provides percentages of investment in communication in proportion to the total economic value of the individual projects.
Moreover, Lithuania added financial resources from the national budget to increase the visibility and transparency of communication activities at the national level. In addition, it has set precise indicators to measure the impact and effectiveness that information campaigns will have on citizens.
Estonia has given precise indications to the ministries that will manage the RRP funds to integrate communication in the key issues such as “digital revolution, green revolution, digital state, energy efficiency, sustainable transport, health, and social welfare” reads the plan.
Finally, Portugal has gone further, opening a real call to action aimed at communication professionals and academics to adequately and effectively inform about opportunities of the RRP, making them known to everyone.
Overall, most European countries seem to have taken very seriously the matter of how to communicate the Recovery and Resilience Plan.
Italy should align itself with our European colleagues and realize that we will not go very far without a long-term communication strategy that is transparent and inclusive.
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