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Italy’s new PM Draghi promises sweeping reforms, urges national unity

Prime Minister Mario Draghi called on Italians on Wednesday to pull together to help rebuild the country following the coronavirus pandemic and promised his new government would introduce sweeping reforms to revitalise the battered economy.

In his maiden speech to parliament, the former head of the European Central Bank said his broad-based administration would throw all its efforts into defeating COVID-19, while looking to leave a stronger, greener nation for future generations.

“Today we have, as did the governments of the immediate post-war period, the possibility, or rather the responsibility, to launch a new reconstruction,” Draghi told the Senate, ahead of a mandatory confidence vote that he won by a huge margin.

His immediate priorities will be ensuring a smooth coronavirus vaccination campaign and re-writing plans for how to spend more than 200 billion euros ($240 billion) of European Union funds aimed at rebuilding the economy.

To guarantee the money is well spent, Draghi signaled that he wanted to overhaul the public administration, which is throttled by red tape, and the justice system, one of the slowest in Europe.

Draghi also put a strongly pro-European stamp on his administration, which includes parties such as the right-wing League which have been highly critical of the euro common currency and Brussels bureaucracy in the past.

“Supporting this government means sharing the irreversibility of the choice of the euro, it means sharing the prospect of an increasingly integrated European Union that will arrive at a common public budget,” said Draghi, who received a standing ovation from senators after his 50-minute address.

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