by Simone Billi

For this Budget Law, I have brought forward many requests of the Italian community abroad and I have managed to obtain several results.

The most important one is the strengthening of the consular network with 100 new contractors. Contractors can be hired more quickly and have a much lower impact on the state coffers than permanent employees hired from Italy. In fact, the consular network is in enormous difficulty due to the exponential increase in AIRE members in recent years (from 4,249,716 in 2009 to 6,274,486 in 2020, equal to about +50%).

This exponential increase in AIRE has been matched by a substantial reduction in staff in Consular Offices, from 1,604 people in 2009 to 1,374 people in 2020, i.e. -230 people (-14.5%), due to cuts in the entire Italian Public Administration. At the Farnesina the total decrease in permanent staff from 2009 to 2020 was -1,125 people, equal to -33%. Added to this is the continuation of this dramatic pandemic, which has forced many Consulates to work at 50% and, therefore, increased their backlogs.

To date, the big problem with the consular network is the online appointment at the Consulate for document renewal, whether passport or ID. There are many complaints that I receive on a daily basis. Farnesina's metrics of 8 weeks to get the document are good, because they start from the day of the appointment, but they don't take into consideration the time it takes to get the same appointment.

It was also important to have obtained the readjustment of the fund for the salaries of contract workers already at work, many of whom have been waiting for years in countries where the high cost of living has been felt.

I want to underline the decision of the Farnesina - outside of the Budget Law but very important - to accept my proposal to also send their new recruits to consular offices that are particularly under pressure.

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Another important result of this Budget Law was the additional funding for Italian schools abroad, to support the study of our language and strengthen the ties of the community abroad with the Motherland, as well as to promote the Country System through our soft power. There is still much to be done for Italian schools abroad, but this is a small step forward.

Another important result is the refinancing for the activities of Italian exiles, because economic recovery also passes through the projection of the country system in the world, where communities abroad and Italian minorities play an important role.

Therefore, even in this difficult year, still marked by the serious difficulties caused by the pandemic, I managed to obtain important results in the Budget, in order to maintain a close link between us Italians abroad and our country.

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Member of Parliament elected to the Chamber of Deputies in the Abroad - Europe Constituency. Member of the Lega group, he is part of the Commission of Foreign and Community Affairs and is secretary of the Parliamentary Delegation to the Assembly of the Council of Europe. He has a degree in Industrial Engineering and is a manager in the intellectual property sector.