Italy's cabinet approves EU-backed post-Covid recovery plan
Thursday - January 14, 2021 6:57 am , Category : WORLD
Rome, Jan 14 (IANS) Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's cabinet passed a national recovery plan to boost the economy in the post-Covid phase.Overall, the multi-year package was worth 310 billion euros (US $378.3 billion) over the next six years, most of which made of European Union (EU) funds, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.Italy is in fact meant to receive 209.9 billion euros in low-interest loans and grants from the EU. That is its portion of the 750-billion-euro European Recovery Fund provided by the Next Generation EU program approved by the EU in July 2020 to help member states cope with the economic consequences of the pandemic.In the 172-page national plan, the Italian cabinet added 13 billion euros coming from the REACT EU social cohesion package, some 7.9 billion euros from other EU projects, and 79.8 billion euros in national funds provided by Italy's financial program 2021-2026.The "Recovery and Resilience Plan" outlines six macro-areas to which these funds will be allocated, and the kind of spending to be made (both in new projects and in some underway).The six macro-areas of intervention, or strategic axes, including digitalization and innovation, green transition, health, and social inclusion; each area comprises different sectors.Overall, more than 70 per cent of the resources will be destined for public investments, and the rest to relief measures and stimuli to support private investments, the government said in a statement.The largest portion -- some 67.5 billion euros -- will be invested in the green transition area for a further ecological transformation of the Italian economy, the third-largest in the euro-zone."With the European resources, our country can now truly change," Economy and Finance Minister Roberto Gualtieri wrote on Twitter."Now let's start with the debate in parliament and in the country."Now that the cabinet passed it, the recovery plan will, in fact, go before the Italian parliament to be discussed, eventually amended, and voted.EU's member states have until the end of April to present their final recovery plans to Brussels, where the EU Commission will examine them to see if they are consistent with the standards required by the Next Generation EU program.If not, the EU executive branch can ask member states to modify their plans.According to an outlook report by Italian economic think tank Prometeia in December, Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) could gain 0.3 percentage points in 2021 as a direct result of using the first tranche of the EU recovery funds -- estimated at 24.9 billion euros -- with "a cumulative positive impact of 1.2 percentage points on GDP at the end of 2023."