-- by Amb. Giampiero Massolo, Italian Prime Minister’s Personal Representative for the G8 and G20
Secretary General of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Global Standard/Lecce framework aims to respond to a need acutely felt since the beginning of the global financial and economic crisis. One of the things we have discovered through these troubled times is that the extent of irresponsible risk taking, of tax evasion, of free riding – sometimes verging on fraud, sometimes going well beyond it – has proved to be unsustainable. The costs and the losses imposed by this type of behaviour on the global community, on consumers, investors, workers and taxpayers are unacceptable.
In promoting the Global Standard, the Italian Government aims to restore sound principles of prudence, transparency and integrity. As initially underlined by Economy and Finance Minister Tremonti, the Global Standard is meant to recreate a standard of ethical behaviour in international economic activity, in the same way that adherence to the Gold Standard was a “good housekeeping seal of approval” for governments around the world until World War One.
It is clear that we are not trying to reinvent the wheel: we are rather trying to bring back, to coordinate, improve and spread around the world a series of rules and codes of conduct, not all of which are legally binding, which have for the most part existed for some time but were neglected in the euphoria of the past decade. The Global Standard is part of the international effort to restore growth on solid basis, providing meaningful and effective rules to govern globalisation and to prevent the resurgence of the problems we have encountered in the last two years.
The Global Standard/Lecce Framework is a process which started at the beginning of this year. G8 Finance Ministers agreed on the objectives of this strategy in June at their meeting in Lecce. We have been particularly pleased by the warm reception given at the L’Aquila Summit by world Leaders to the ideas behind the Lecce Framework. The political endorsement of this initiative at the highest level is particularly important.
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also shared the idea that agreed principles and standards must be at the centre of global governance to ensure stability in the long run. She therefore proposed to develop a “Charter for Sustainable economic activity”, indicating the common principles and standards on propriety, integrity and transparency of the Lecce Framework as one of its main pillars. With a view to bringing the Lecce Framework and the Charter to the largest possible audience, our two governments are now working together with the OECD and the G20 Presidency to bring forward this issue to the Pittsburgh Summit in September. Rules on international conduct must be widely accepted and enforced internationally in order to be effective. That is why we would like to share them with the largest possible number of States, to avoid a race to the bottom and regulatory arbitrage between jurisdictions.
The discussion will also continue on a technical and academic level, involving civil society in the debate, following the “bottom up” approach of the last few months, in order to receive the best information, advice and proposals from the international community of professionals, professors and civil servants.