According to Italian daily Corriere della Sera Centinaio said: “It is said that few children are born in Italy and that help is needed to reverse the trend. That is why our ministry wants to make a contribution by supporting, in particular, rural areas where children are still being produced.”
Specifically, families who have a third child between 2019 to 2021 will receive a concession for a piece of state or uncultivated land in the south for at least 20 years, according to the Catholic family minister Lorenzo Fontana (Lega).
The provision will apply only to married couples. In addition, the offer is open to foreigners only if they have lived in Italy for at least ten years, also a requirement in the granting of citizenship.
The “land gift” is popular above all among young Italians, Centinaio said justifying the measure. Italy has one of the lowest fertility rates in Europe, with 7.7 newborns per 1000 population in 2017. The Province of Bolzano – South Tyrol is the only one in which the number of newborn children exceeds the mortality rate with 0.5 newborns per 1000 inhabitants.
The agricultural organisation Coldiretti praised the measure. The Italian state owns half a million hectares of agricultural land worth €9.9 billion, according to Coldiretti.
The proposal corresponds to demands from the younger generation, as they are unable to gain a foothold due to the lack of agricultural land. The average prices for one hectare of agricultural land in Italy exceed those in Germany and France by at least 20 000 euros, or sometimes twice or even three times that.
The planned budget law also envisages setting up a €20 billion fund over the next three years to provide cheap loans of up to €200 million. This will allow future owners of agricultural land to move their main residence to the area of the assigned land.
Opposition politicians criticized the financing of the measure. The former head of the Progressive Alliance of Social Democrats in the European Parliament, Gianni Pitella (Partito Democratico), spoke to the online magazine Euractive of “neo-medieval” plans.