Italian PM urges national cohesion ahead of summit on recovery plan

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte urged national cohesion among the country’s political forces, ahead of a European Council video conference to discuss the post-COVID-19 recovery plan.

“It is time to act with a spirit of full cohesion at the national level,” Conte said while addressing Parliament on Wednesday.

Conte said that the European Council video meeting scheduled for Friday would not yet be crucial in terms of political decisions, since the proposal for the multi-year Financial Framework 2021-2027 has not been formally unveiled.

Yet, showing national cohesion in this phase and in the forthcoming negotiations would help Italy “seize immediately and fully the opportunity that Europe is offering itself, by supporting the countries most affected by the COVID-19 (pandemic)”.

About the proposals for the post-COVID-19 recovery phase made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the other key topic on the agenda of the meeting on Friday, Conte confirmed Italy would fully support them.

“Those proposals are based on the awareness that an unprecedented crisis in the history of the union needs an extraordinary European response,” Conte told lawmakers.

“This is consistent with the approach Italy has responsibly been suggesting on European tables (of negotiation) since the first stage of the COVID-19 contagion.”

In this first phase of the debate on EU’s recovery and budget plans, only a portion of the Italian parliamentary opposition accepted Conte’s call.

Only the centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party led by former premier Silvio Berlusconi took part in the discussion that followed Conte’s communications, while the right-wing League led by Matteo Salvini, as well as its small ally Brothers of Italy, decided to leave the hall.

In May, the European Commission put forward a proposal for a recovery plan to help member states overcome the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dubbed the “Next Generation EU”, the plan would consist of 750 billion euros ($840 billion).

The plan, as well as targeted reinforcements to the long-term EU Budget 2021-2027, would bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to 1.85 trillion euros, according to the European Commission.