© Reuters. Italy’s Prime Minister Draghi holds news conference, in Rome
By Giuseppe Fonte and Gavin Jones ROME (Reuters) – Italy has reached a deal with the European Commission over its recovery plan, Prime Minister Mario Draghi told cabinet late on Saturday, after days of intense talks, paving the way for it to be submitted to Brussels by the end of April. Italy plans to spend more than 220 billion euros ($266 billion) from European Union and national funds to revive its coronavirus-battered economy, a draft 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. 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 Commission’s concerns over Italy’s recovery 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 the investments in the plan will be put into practice and monitored, sources told Reuters last week. The draft of 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. The formal target date for presentation by all 27 EU countries of their recovery plans is April 30, but Brussels has said this is not a rigid deadline and half of the national plans will probably be submitted in May.
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