Italy PM Mario Draghi says EU agrees to 220b euros recovery plan

Italy has reached a deal with the European Commission over its recovery plan, Prime Minister Mario Draghi told the cabinet late on Saturday, after days of intense talks, paving the way for it to be submitted to Brussels by the end of April, Reuters reports.

Italy plans to spend more than 220 billion euros (US$266 billion) from European Union and national funds to revive its coronavirus-battered economy, a document seen by Reuters showed.

Economy Minister Daniele Franco unveiled the plan’s details to the cabinet late on Saturday, after it was delayed for 12 hours to allow negotiations to proceed with Brussels.

Draghi’s spokesperson said he told his ministers that he got the green light from the commission by intervening directly in the talks, even though there were still some “marginal adjustments” to iron out.

Draghi’s intervention included a call with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the spokesperson said.

The government on Sunday said it had sent the plan to parliament, where it will be presented to lawmakers by Draghi on Monday and Tuesday. It may then be reviewed again and definitively approved by the cabinet before being submitted to Brussels.

The prime minister’s office has said the submission will take place within the April 30 target date set by the Commission. Brussels’ concerns over Italy’s plan centred on a lack of detail over structural reforms of areas such as the public administration, the justice system and the tax system, as well as the way investments in the plan will be put into practice and monitored, sources told Reuters last week.

Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Draghi announced the “go-ahead” from the Commission to the ministers who were reviewing the latest draft of the plan for the first time.

The sometimes fractious, multi-party cabinet welcomed the news of a deal. “There was an excellent atmosphere of collaboration and enthusiasm,” Di Maio told Reuters.

The plan includes dozens of projects under six headings: ecological transition, digitalisation, infrastructure, education and research, social inclusion and health.

The government says that thanks to the investments and structural reforms in the plan, Italy’s gross domestic product in 2026 will be 3.6 percentage points higher than it would otherwise have been.

Brussels has said the formal April 30 target date for presentation by all 27 EU countries of their recovery plans is not a rigid deadline and half of the national plans will probably be submitted in May.

Rome is entitled to 191.5 billion euros in grants and cheap loans from the EU’s European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). A separate programme named React-EU provides a further 13 billion euros of grants.

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