July 20 (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday challenged his coalition parties to get behind him to tackle a series of problems before an election due in the first half of 2023.
Draghi, whose resignation was rejected last week by Italy’s president, could still quit if the parties in his broad coalition fail to fall into line.
Following are the priorities set out by Draghi in a speech to Italy’s upper house Senate.
RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE PLAN (PNRR)
Italy is entitled to benefit from more than 200 billion euros ($205 billion) in post-pandemic recovery funds from the European Union until 2026, but must pass a series of reforms to ensure the cash continues to flow.
Draghi said Italy had another 55 targets to hit before the end of the year to unlock a further tranche of 19 billion euros.
These included steps to increase competition into services such as taxis and contracts to operate concessions on Italian beaches, both of which are opposed by vocal lobby groups.
COST OF LIVING CRISIS
Draghi said significant measures needed to be adopted by early August to offset the impact on households and businesses of rising energy costs and to protect the spending power of the most vulnerable.
Draghi said Italy must continue to redraw its energy policy, building on steps already taken to reduce its reliance on Russia and source more gas from countries such as Algeria, which he visited this week.
He said Italy would continue to campaign for a ceiling on the price of gas imported from Russia.
He also stressed the need to build renewable energy capacity and to install regasification terminals in Piombino, on the west coast of Italy, and Ravenna in the east.
Draghi said Italy’s place was at the heart of the European Union, G7 and NATO.
He said Italy must support Ukraine by all possible means, adding that President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told him in a call on Tuesday that arming Ukraine was only way to allow the country to defend itself.
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