DiEMers from Sicily oppose Special Economic Zones

Unlike nearly all the people we know, this month we cannot go on holiday. With good reason: we live next to one of the largest and most polluted oil refinery harbours of the Mediterranean in Syracuse. And August is typically the month when industrial lobbies get their draft legislation passed.

And this is exactly what happened right now: following the example of the Special Economic Zones in Poland, on August 9 the Sicilian government passed its proposal for their ZES (Zone Economiche Speciali, Engl. Special Economic Zones), aimed at improving the logistics and commercial exchange with EU members. ZES are administrative areas where economic activity can be conducted on preferential terms which first of all means: simplified license authorizations and tax exemptions.

Cheered by both the political establishment and the populists as a much-needed boost for the economic development of the Industrial site, the designated areas in the Syracuse region are actually a further threat to our fragile environment. Approximately 500 out of a total of 700 hectares lie either on farming lands, such as wetlands and citrus groves or on oil-contaminated sites that need to be cleaned off first, including an on-shore oil deposit in the urban area of Syracuse.

DSC Augusta 1 made the case and their members’ concerns public and sent out a press statement. Shortly after, “Error404online“ published the article “Augusta, ZES in full August does not enchant DiEM25: it cancels environmental constraints“. 

As the designated areas are subject to final approval by the national government, we urge everyone to appeal against such a draft taken without any local consultation. Based on our Green New Deal, my proposal is to link the benefits of the ZES to the long-awaited clean off of any contaminated industrial site first and then to reconvert all industrial activities from fossil to renewable energies.

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