PM Draghi’s press conference
Thursday, 2 September 2021
[The following video is available in Italian only]
PM DRAGHI’S INTRODUCTION
This press conference has been called to provide information on the main matters that the Government is currently dealing with and will be deciding on over the coming months. We already began to cover many of them during today’s Council of Ministers meeting. The main issues we will be talking about today are vaccines, schools, the economy and foreign policy.
As there are many of us here, I shall only say a few words by way of an introduction, to give you an overview of the work that the Government has done and is currently doing.
Vaccines. The vaccination campaign is pushing ahead at a good pace: by the end of September, 80% of the population will be vaccinated. 70% are already completely vaccinated, so I am pretty confident that we will meet the 80% target by the end of this month. This is obviously very reassuring in terms of both production activities starting back up and schools reopening. I’ll be saying more about schools in a moment.
I’m sorry to repeat myself but I would once again like to call upon people to get vaccinated, in order to protect themselves but also as an act of solidarity towards others. Getting vaccinated is a way of protecting our families and all people we come into contact with. I have made this plea several times, sometimes even more incisively, and I shall continue to repeat that it is necessary to get vaccinated.
While I’m on this point, I would also like to express my full solidarity with all those who have been and continue to be victims of violence and hate by so-called ‘anti-vaxxers’. Such violence is particularly odious and cowardly when it is targeted against people whose job it is to provide information and those working on the front line to fight the pandemic.
That’s enough. I shan’t say anything else on this point because I want to look at the positive side of the situation. The positive side is that young people have shown great enthusiasm when it comes to getting vaccinated. Around 70% of 16- to 19-year-olds have received at least one dose of the vaccine and almost half are fully vaccinated.
Thanks to so many young people getting vaccinated and extensive vaccine coverage at national level, we can now deal with the reopening of schools, as I mentioned before, with a certain peace of mind, or at least with less uncertainty than last year.
Please remember that allowing students to attend school in person has always been this Government’s priority. As you will remember, in mid-April this year, I decided that it was necessary to get children back in schools, and was criticised by many experts. This was a successful decision, allowing all Italian students to attend school in person for an extra month. We now therefore wish to continue along that path.
91.5% of teachers have received at least one dose of the vaccine, so we are also ready from that point of view.
Application of the ‘Green Pass’ [EU Digital COVID Certificate] seems to be going well – Minister Bianchi will be touching on this in a few moments’ time – as is the preparation of local transport – which Minister Giovannini will be talking about later. There will of course be cases where we see photographs of public transport full of people, or certain things not going as they should, but, generally speaking, the impression is that careful preparation work has been carried out well and that the Government certainly hasn’t “taken it easy” over the summer, as some have said.
I would also like to say a few words about the economy. As you know, the economy is continuing to grow and is actually growing much more than expected: just look at the estimates made by the Ministry of Economy and Finance in its official documents from March this year. This therefore also gives us a certain degree of encouragement.
The labour market is performing well: unless I am mistaken, approximately half a million more people are now in work. Overall employment figures are showing no signs of decreasing. Also in this regard, of course certain situations have been handled in a reprehensible way, and the Government will have to intervene case-by-case, but overall the situation is favourable.
Having said that, two observations need to be made here. The first is that I do not believe we should be rejoicing too much over these numbers; it is true that they are positive and that the Italian economy has not recorded such figures for I don’t know how many decades, but it is also true that, in 2020, our economic performance, our GDP, dropped to an extent that Italy had not seen for decades. So, this is partly a large rebound, which is pretty much being experienced in all countries; those who recorded a larger drop will have a larger rebound, while those who recorded a smaller drop will have a smaller rebound.
The real challenge will come in the first two quarters of next year: to successfully maintain a growth rate that is considerably higher than the one prior to the pandemic. That will be the true test as to whether the Italian economy can transform and become structurally more solid. In the meantime, the figures we are currently seeing nevertheless represent good news.
Reforms: the Government is going to be very busy over the coming weeks as it will be submitting reforms on our competition law, justice system and taxation, in the form of enabling laws.
Both the criminal justice law and the civil justice law are being discussed in Parliament; the Senate will be looking into them shortly. We must then tackle the fundamental issue of active labour market policies, because we are going through a period of transition, of far-reaching technological transition towards a sustainable economy. We can therefore expect that lots of sectors will have to be restructured and some will have to slow down production, so the Government needs to have an industrial vision in place to allocate and reskill workers in the various sectors.
Last point: foreign policy. I am sure you have all followed the tragedy in Afghanistan. I will be meeting with President Macron in Marseille this evening and that will be the main topic of our discussion. However, we will also be talking about the EU, bilateral relations and Libya. It really will be a comprehensive conversation, covering all major issues.
With regard to Afghanistan, as I have said before, very many considerations need to be made in order to establish and map the future. Today, it is above all necessary to focus on the future and, in the immediate future, we must be 100% committed to humanitarian efforts; we must help Afghan people.
In this regard, I must of course thank, as I have done already, all the armed forces that have been in Afghanistan for the last twenty years. However, I must also thank all staff working for the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their extraordinary evacuation work. As you know, they have managed to get 5,000 Afghan citizens out of Afghanistan, who are now being resettled in Italy and have immediately been granted refugee status as they were the ones who helped us. Their resettlement is being dealt with in a specific way, acknowledging their contribution to Italy’s mission in that country.
I shall stop here and pass the floor to Minister Gelmini.