Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday September 11th, that he will request that the European Commission (EC) give special status to Southern Italy's poorest cities to help to tackle unemployment and organised crime.
"We have to try to get Europe to recognise a special status for our south, to allow us to launch extraordinary measures for development," Conte posted on Facebook before heading off to Brussels to meet the new EC President Ursula Von Der Leyen.
The European Union special status would give the country's southern region, which currently has one of highest youth unemployment rates in Europe, direct access to EU aid programmes.
Furthermore, more than 1.8 million families were living in absolute poverty in the south of Italy in 2018, according to the latest Eurostat rankings.
The lack of job opportunities for young people, makes them easy targets for the recruiters for powerful organised crime groups.
"Youth unemployment in southern Italy exceeds 50%, there is a lack of investment, development policies and strategies to relaunch it," European parliament members of the Five Star Movement political party said in a statement.
The members supported Conte's request for special status, adding that they will also fight other European policies that are blamed for "emigration, poverty and unemployment" in the south.