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Government programme: PM Draghi responds to the points raised by the Senate

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi responds to the Senate following the general discussion on his official communications regarding the Government programme.

[The following video is available in Italian only]

I would like to stress how crucial I believe the role and work of Parliament to be in overcoming the challenge we are facing. In particular, with reference to the National Recovery and Resilience Plan that was mentioned several times during the parliamentary debate, I have clearly stated that this Plan’s governance must be incorporated into the Ministry of Economy and Finance, working very closely with the respective ministries in order to define and implement sector-specific policies and projects.
I confirm that Parliament will be promptly and adequately informed about the Plan’s overall structure and its specific intervention policies. 
Of course, many issues were raised during today’s debate and I shall try to respond to a number of precise points. I hope to cover at least those comments that struck me the most, but I apologise in advance if I do not manage to reply to some of your questions.

One point was raised regarding the environment and the concept of sustainable development. This forms the basis for justice between generations, which I know the Senate is discussing in the form of constitutional bills, in order to include this concept in the Italian Constitution. This Government confirms its commitment to move in this direction.

A second point on the environment: with regard to environmental impact, an Italian law from 2015 requires there to be both an ex-ante and ex-post evaluation of natural capital policies. The Government confirms its commitment on this point, which, incidentally, is in line with – actually, follows - the NRRP guidelines and is in accordance with the European semester topics.

A third point referred to involving social partners and certain intermediary bodies. I did something quite uncommon which was to meet with the social partners and a number of intermediary bodies during the consultations, so I can confirm the commitment to involve them in Government activities. The same applies to our regional authorities: again quite unusually, during the consultation phase, I also met with representatives of the country’s regional authorities, municipalities and provinces. Indeed, with regard to many of the things we have discussed today, their involvement is not only inevitable but also essential: certain things simply cannot be done unless they are discussed with the regional authorities.

With regard to culture, this morning I said that Italy is a cultural powerhouse, recognised the world over. This is also why, during our G20 Presidency, we will be shining an important spotlight on cultural issues through a dedicated meeting. The restrictions brought in to contain the pandemic have, of course, taken a serious toll on museums, cinemas, theatres, music, dance, the entire live entertainment industry and all arts in general. Culture needs to be supported, otherwise we risk losing this identity-defining heritage of ours.
There have been huge economic losses but losing our spirit would be even worse.  Much has been done to ensure adequate relief measures, but we need to do even more. Above all, we need to strengthen measures to protect workers and we must seize the opportunity provided by the NextGenerationEU programme to boost investments in our cultural heritage, human capital and new technologies. Getting back to normal as quickly as possible must also refer to culture, in all its forms, as this is essential for our country’s growth and well-being.
I apologise for not explicitly mentioning the immigration issue; I shall now share some thoughts on this. With regard to this problem, the most effective and long-lasting solution involves EU and European institutions taking full responsibility. Indeed, one of the most significant policy dossiers at EU level refers to the legislative proposals presented by the European Commission last September, as part of the so-called “Pact on Migration and Asylum”. These are new proposals after negotiations between 2014 and 2019 for the reform of the Common European Asylum System failed; having said that, the political stalemate continues to block EU action, especially regarding interpretation of the solidarity principle. In fact, conflicting positions remain between those Member States with external EU borders that are more exposed to migration flows (Italy, Spain, Greece, Malta and, in part, Bulgaria) and Member States in northern and eastern Europe, whose main concern is avoiding so-called secondary movements of migrants into their countries from the states of first entry.
Supported by a number of Mediterranean countries including Spain, Greece, Cyprus and Malta, Italy is proposing a concrete solidarity measure in the form of a compulsory system for redistributing migrants on a pro quota basis, highlighting the specific issue of managing external maritime borders.

I briefly mentioned the need for legality and security in order to build well-being, recovery and growth in Italy’s Mezzogiorno. I actually said that, without legality and security, there can be no growth. It is clear that specific instruments can be deployed, such as the tax credit and also other measures to be agreed upon at EU level; however, it is very difficult to grow without restoring legality and security.  
As already mentioned today, we are also facing a specific risk, particularly in view of the period of reconstruction thanks to the NextGenerationEU funds: the risk of organised crime infiltrating the economy following the liquidity crisis that is affecting several sectors. This risk is being constantly assessed by the ‘Permanent Monitoring and Analysis Body’, which was established within our Public Security Department in April 2020; this body brings together the different police forces and is tasked to constantly update the mapping of mafia networks and activities, coordinating the relative counteractions. Particular attention is also being paid to providing companies and citizens in difficulty as a result of the pandemic crisis with the funding allocated by emergency legislation.
Prefects have been made aware that they must pay the utmost attention to the greater risks of the legal economy being infiltrated as a result of today’s emergency situation. The aim is to hasten a structured response from the State in terms of preventing and fighting this issue. 

Monitoring carried out after these guidelines were issued has revealed that many Prefectures have begun to cooperate with chambers of commerce and municipalities; this cooperation allows for more incisive checks into corporate changes involving economic activities that are most at risk of criminal infiltration, especially commercial establishments and the tourism-hotel industry. In the same context, SACE [Italian Export Credit Agency] has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance to ensure that the guarantee system for banks providing financing to companies is fully operational, thereby preventing any public funds from benefiting economic operators suspected of being under the influence of criminals. A similar agreement has been signed between the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Italian Revenue Agency.
Moving on to tourism, this morning I mentioned the fact that a number of businesses may not reopen after the pandemic, but one industry that certainly will reopen is tourism. It is therefore not a waste of money to invest in and support tourism, because we will see that money return.
For a country like Italy where the tourism industry is so important, this is, of course, a crucial issue. Measures must be implemented to prevent tourism companies from going bankrupt and to help workers in this industry protect their levels of income. It is clear that overcoming the pandemic is the best way of supporting the tourism industry, but we must prevent companies from collapsing right now, as this would lead to a loss of what is essentially human capital.

The points raised today reflect an awareness of the health, economic, social, educational and cultural disaster. Basing itself on this awareness, this Government shall build its credibility through concrete actions.
I want to thank you for the appreciation you have shown me, even though this must also be justified and validated through the actions of my Government. 
Thank you. 

[Courtesy translation]