According to the Ministry of Defence, in 2015, defence expenditure for staff increased by 1.6%, while that for training (Operational related costs), was reduced by 14%. As announced, the 2016 Defence budget will be about €20 billion; 77% will be allocated to Personnel, 9% to Operational related costs and 11% to Investment (See chart below). 


Located in the south of Europe, the Italian peninsula extends into the central Mediterranean Sea. It neighbours with Tunisia and Libya to the south (across the sea), France to the northwest, Switzerland and Austria to the north, Slovenia to the northeast and to the east shares the Adriatic and Ionian Seas with Balkan countries (Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania and Greece). Having control of the two largest islands in the Mediterranean sea –Sicily and Sardinia- and with 7,600 km of coastline, Italy’s fragmented geography may explain various diversifications that appear in its territory. The Apennines bisect the country from north to south, something that is reflected in the numerous dialects spoken in the country. Moreover, the Po river flowing eastward across north Italy, has turned the Po Valley to the main industrial and commercial centre of Italy -due to the river’s navigability, rich soil, as well as the region’s connectivity with other commercial centres- as well as one of the wealthiest centres in Europe. Nowadays, Italy has a population of 60.7 million (2016), while Milan, Venice and Turin, have turned into three of the most powerful economic and political centres of the country.

Back in history, Mussolini’s alliance with the Nazi Germany, led Italy to its defeat in World War II. Italy started its economic revival after 1946, when the monarchy was replaced by the democratic republic. Since then, Italy transformed itself from an agriculture nation, to a major industrial economy. An advocate of European economic and political unification, Italy joined the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. However, Italy today, appears to be sceptical regarding the European austerity policy, while it has expressed many times its disappointment in relation to the EU efforts, to address the migration issue.

In recent times, Italy exhibits a sluggish economic growth, high youth unemployment, organized crime, and economic disparities –mainly between the southern and northern parts of the country. Not surprisingly, the majority of Italians consider Health, Education and Life satisfaction as the most important factors of a high living standard, while 6/10 appear generally satisfied with their life, according to the OECD Better Life Index.