The Great NRRP Bake-Off. Sparks flew on Wednesday between outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi and his prospective successor, Giorgia Meloni. The matter of contention was Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP), the EU-bankrolled, €210+ billion roadmap to boost Italy’s growth and development.
- Roughly one-tenth of that is disbursed at the end of each semester upon Italy completing the required reforms. So far, PM Draghi has respected all the deadlines, unlocking two chunks of NRRP funding.
- “To date, 21 of the 55 goals and targets planned for the end of the year have already been achieved, and we expect to achieve 29 by the end of the month,” he told journalists on Wednesday.
- He also emphasised there were “no delays” whatsoever. “If there were any, the Commission would [simply] not pay the money,” he noted. “It is up to the next government to continue the work.”
Meloni begs to differ. Hours before, the Brothers of Italy leader – who until then had appeared cooperative and willing to undertake a smooth transition of power – had complained of the plan’s implementation. “We inherit a difficult situation: the delays in the NRRP are evident and difficult to recover, and we are aware that it will be a shortcoming that does not depend on us but will also be attributed to us by those who determined it.”
- She also declared that she would not attend the European Council meeting on October 20-21. “What’s the point of forcing the timing of an appointment where you risk bringing [back] little, or even worse, failure?”
Managing expectations? According to several onlookers, Ms Meloni’s would be an attempt to distance herself from the idea of her government maintaining continuity with PM Draghi’s. However, after his pressure, she went on damage control – and assured there was “no clash” with him.
- Ms Meloni’s push to change the already-greenlit NRRP in light of the current crises was a flashpoint of her electoral campaign, with many in the EU worrying this would bring Italy away from the tracks laid by Mr Draghi – and further from the concept of EU unity.
Not quite. As Decode39 reported on multiple occasions, the government handover seems to be going on smoothly, and Brothers of Italy signalled substantial continuity on several fronts – including, but not limited to, the two biggest items on Rome’s table: Italy’s support to Ukraine (including via weapons shipments) and how to tackle the energy crisis.
- In the late hours of Wednesday, Ms Meloni welcomed the Commission’s step forward on the EU-wide gas price cap.
- Furthermore, current Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani is tipped to remain onboard.
Bottom line. Given the ongoing crises, it’s abundantly clear that avoiding a collision course with Brussels is useful to Rome, and no less, Ms Meloni herself. Passing the buck might not work; rather, it’s fundamentally more important for her to figure out how to move forward. That only works with EU unity.