Salvini said European budget constraints may have prevented local authorities from maintaining and repairing the Genoa bridge within hours of the tragedy. At least 39 people were killed and 15 injured when the busy motorway bridge collapsed.
“Italy must be able to spend the money needed to secure rivers, schools, highways and hospitals, without there being any crazy European constraints to prevent it,” Salvini told an Italian radio host.
L’Italia deve poter spendere i soldi necessari per mettere in sicurezza fiumi, scuole, autostrade e ospedali, senza che ci siano folli vincoli europei ad impedirlo.
Prima viene la sicurezza degli italiani.
Voglio un Paese che va avanti, non che torna indietro! pic.twitter.com/qZiUH5llwU
— Matteo Salvini (@matteosalvinimi) August 16, 2018
In an angry response, the EU Commission said billions of euros had been given for infrastructure projects. A Commission spokesperson Christian Spahr said on Thursday that, under EU rules, the concessionary party was responsible for security on highways.
“As regards the responsibility for security of the road infrastructure on the Trans-European transport network (TENT), in the case that it is managed by a private operator, it is the concessionary that has the responsibility for the security and maintenance of the road,” Spahr said, adding that the collapsed Morandi bridge in Genoa was part of this network. The spokesman added: “Over the 2014-2020 period, Italy is set to receive around €2.5 billion under European Structural and Investment Funds for investments in network infrastructures, such as roads or rail.
“In April 2018, the Commission also approved under EU State aid rules an investment plan for Italian motorways, which will enable around €8.5 billion of investments to go ahead, including in the Genoa region.”
The Italian government has said it would strip highway company Autostrade per l’Italia of its concession after Tuesday’s disaster.
Highways agency Autostrade per l’Italia spend 2.1 billion euros in the 2013-2017 period on the “maintenance, security and driveability” of its 3 020km motorway network, according to its balance sheets. In the same period it made profits of 4.05 billion euros, 3.75 billion of which was paid out in dividends to Atlantia shareholders and to the foreign funds that took up a 12 percent stake in the second half of 2017 for around 1.7 billion euros.
Salvini has said that those responsible for the bridge’s collapse would be held to account. “I have crossed that bridge hundreds of times. Now, as an Italian citizen, I will do everything to get names and surnames of managers responsible, past and present, because it is unacceptable to die like that in Italy.”
Italy, the third-largest economy in the Eurozone, is struggling with EU-mandated fiscal targets because of public debt.
Salvini said during an Italian radio interview: “There are some regions that have used and spent all European funds, other regions that have not. There is, therefore, someone who must be rewarded and someone who must be punished.”
The country spent more than €14 billion on its roads in 2006 but that decreased to less than €4bn by 2010, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.