Little divides Stefan and Georg living either side of the Brenner Pass linking Austria and Italy. Although they carry different passports, they speak the same language – German – run similarly successful tourism businesses in one of the wealthiest and most glorious corners of a united Europe, and are clients of the same banking group, UniCredit.
Only that Georg on the Italian side of the mountains pays twice as much interest on his loans as his neighbour Stefan in Austria. Georg – who incidentally has never been to Rome in his life but visits land he owns in Canada every year – wonders where Europe is heading.
So does Roberto Nicastro, general manager of UniCredit, explaining that based on Italy’s high borrowing costs on its sovereign debt – yielding more than 6 per cent compared with Austria’s just less than 2 per cent – the bank is obliged to pass on widely different rates to its prime clients in the two countries.
Source: Financial Times (online).
Unlike many Tyrolean politicians the Financial Times seems to share ’s opinion that borders do still exist. From an economical point of view — according to the newspaper — there apparently even is a “right” and a “wrong” side of the border to be on. And we live on the wrong side.