Renzi in city to sign “Pact for Milan”

1.5 bn. financing from central government.

Prime minister Matteo Renzi visited the city on Tuesday 13 September to sign the “Pact for Milan” with mayor Giuseppe Sala, listing a series of priorities to make Milan “the city of reference for Italy in the world,” as Renzi put it.

Pausing only to lay the foundation stone for the new Siemens corporate headquarters in Via Vipiteno, Renzi headed at once for Palazzo Marino, Milan’s city hall, to keep the promise made in July, when Sala and Lombardy president Roberto Maroni sent a joint letter to Rome with their suggestions.

The 1.5-billion plan covers three main areas: public transport, “internationalisation” of Milan, and redevelopment of the city’s outlying suburbs.

In the first area, the extension of metro line M5 to Monza and line M1 to Baggio head the list of projects, along with modernisation of all the other lines. Given their impact on public transport, the flood prevention plans for the Seveso and Lambro rivers are also found in this chapter, so that the frequent bursting of their banks should no longer regularly bring traffic to a still-stand. The pact also covers the recovery, restoration and assignment to new operators of Milan’s unused railway stations.

“Not all the funding for this is ready at present,” admitted Renzi, “but it will be.” He pledged central government’s willingness to guarantee the funds, because “if we want cities to be technologically interconnected but without transport connections, then we’re not credible.”

As for Milan’s international standing, the projects include transferring the European Medicines Agency from London to Milan in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote, and the creation of a tax-free zone in the former Expo Milan 2015 area, to attract inward investment.

For the suburbs, the plan is to reduce to zero the council housing still unoccupied and to restore the municipal offices in poor condition. This will cost the city €130m, but in the pact the government should guarantee passing the necessary legislation. Sala added that he wants residents to feel more secure, and in that context he asked central government to include in the pact the removal of the current block on hiring more municipal police, or – if that should not be possible – as a “plan B” to deploy more military personnel.

The start of construction on the new offices for Siemens – a company historically associated with Milan – set a significant signal for the start of Renzi’s visit. The 15,000 sqm building, to provide workspace for some 1,700 employees, marks the start of a €40m project for requalification of the area, to include a 25,000 sqm park with 400 newly planted trees.