ROME New Italys Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday called for unity and sacrifice as the country pushes forward with vaccinations and seeks to seize a $ 240 billion European aid package to review the economy and address persistent inequalities.
In his first speech as head of government, Mr. Draghi addressed the Italian Senate for an hour through a white mask before the vote of confidence for a government of broad unity that he is sure to win. A former head of the European Central Bank, he looked at every point the bank president gave an economic perspective and said his government had the opportunity, or rather the responsibility, to start a new reconstruction after the traumatic shock of the pandemic.
He articulated the Italys existential challenges, which he called the toughest since World War II. But he also presented a vision for ambitious fiscal and bureaucratic repairs and reaffirmed the country’s commitment to playing a central role in a more integrated European Union.
In a largely non-political speech, he offered a sharp return to populist forces in his government after one of their leaders raised doubts about Italys’s commitment to staying in the eurozone. In the past decade, Italys populists have grown in popularity in part by questioning whether the country benefited from the single European currency or would be better off without the economic constraints that come with it.
Supporting this government means supporting the irreversibility of the euro election, said Draghi, a clear response to Matteo Salvini, leader of the nationalist League party, who said on Tuesday that only death was irreversible.
The new prime minister said his government’s support meant sharing the prospect of an ever closer European Union as he sat next to a cabinet member from Mr Salvinis’ party, which has accused the European Union of meddling in matters Italys.
Mr Draghi paid his respects to his predecessor, Giuseppe Conte, whose government fell last month. The mention of Mr Contes’s name sparked applause and ridicule, and Mr Draghi quickly moved on and made it clear that Italy was now on a new path.
He reaffirmed the country’s support for its Western allies in NATO, an overthrow by previous governments that flirted with more authoritarian leaders. He also called for closer co-operation with Germany and France, criticized human rights abuses in Russia and spoke about tensions around China.
While the previous government was criticized for what some considered an invalid vision of flower-shaped pavilions as coronavirus vaccination sites, Mr Draghi said inoculations had to be done quickly and efficiently in every public and private space available. , like any hope of relieving Italys of economic pain and guaranteeing the country’s recovery and the future depended on the first defeat of the virus.
The virus is everyone’s enemy, he said.
Above all, his speech called for action in an important year for the country, especially as the April deadline approaches to present a plan to the European Union on how Italy intends to spend more than 200 billion euros around $ 240 billion in Covid aid funds the bloc has agreed to allocate.
A proponent of what he called good debt, Mr Draghi stressed the importance of investing money in sectors that will move the country forward. He spoke of narrowing economic inequalities through investment in education and ambitious public works projects such as high-speed railways. He also predicted new jobs, especially in southern Italys with weak economies.
This is our mission as Italians: to provide a better and fairer place for our children and grandchildren, said Mr Draghi, 73, asking if his generation was willing to make the sacrifices our grandparents and parents made. made for us.
Mr Draghis’s acceptance of a globalized world and his vision of making Italy more competitive served as an oxygen explosion for pro-European Italians.
He called for regulating the country’s tax code, bureaucracy and the icy judiciary, which often blocks businesses in lawsuits and scares off foreign investors. As required by the European Union, he prioritized investments in digitalization, green jobs and renewable energy.
He also addressed some of the open wounds of the Italian economy and society. He said the country needed to improve prospects for talented young people who often pursue careers elsewhere, and acknowledged that Italian women suffered one of the worst pay gaps in Europe and chronic shortages in prominent managerial positions.
True gender equality does not mean a respect for personal quota justice for women required by law, Mr Draghi said, calling for true equality in working conditions.
Now leading the country with the oldest population in Europe, he stressed a need to improve social services for pregnant women and young mothers, saying it was vital to overcoming the choice between family and work, especially in countries surrounded by the south. .
At certain points, Mr. Draghi left the figures and the reform project for some language flourishing. But the flying oratory did not seem to fit his suit, and the attention in the room sometimes seemed to move as lawmakers murmured.
The power of Mr. Draghis, however, is not in his charisma. Grow in his reputation for competence and doing things.
After all he needs the support of Parliaments to do so, and he garnered some of that support on Wednesday when he said he did not buy commentators’ appreciation for his coming on stage as a rescue technocrat of a poor political system. . He said it was only the spirit of national unity and the sacrifice of lawmakers elected by countries that could help Italy.
Today, unity is not an option unity is a task, concluded Mr. Draghi, for a standing ovation. But her task run by what I am sure unites everyone: love for Italy.
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