Italian senator: Renegotiation of Recovery Plan means ‘opening Pandora’s box’

Italian senator: Renegotiation of Recovery Plan means ‘opening Pandora’s box’ |

The renegotiation of Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) risks further strain with countries that opposed the generous provision of EU funds for Italy under the scheme, Senator Emma Bonino told EURACTIV Italy in an exclusive interview.

The NRRP is part of the NextGenerationEU programme involving €800 billion of public funds to help member states with post-pandemic economic recovery. Italy’s NRRP is worth €200 billion in loans and grants.

Debate on renegotiating the NRRP in Italy has been ongoing for over a year and has become hotly contested in the run-up to the general election on 25 September, compounded by the war in Ukraine, and the corresponding energy crisis and subsequent inflation.

The issue was put at the centre of the debate in mid-August when the right-wing alliance declared that it was willing to proceed with renegotiating the deal, as reported by Sky News 24.

Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) leader Giorgia Meloni, whose party has been topping recent opinion polls, recently said that her party would aim to renegotiate it to reduce energy bills in the country.

Italian senator: Renegotiation of Recovery Plan means ‘opening Pandora’s box’ |

Italy’s Meloni on collision course with Brussels over EU recovery plan

Giorgia Meloni, the far-right candidate and frontrunner in the upcoming Italian elections, has promised voters she would modify the country’s recently approved EU national recovery plan and use the money to reduce consumer energy bills if she wins the election.

Speaking to EURACTIV Italy, Bonino said: “We must be very careful not to open a Pandora’s box for those who were already against the allocation of funds to Italy.”

Bonino is a long-serving politician who served as a European Commissioner in the 1990s, and later as minister of European Affairs and Foreign Affairs. She is currently a senator and is running for election as the leader of the + Europa party.

The party is liberal-leaning, building on the tradition of the Radical (Radicali) family. + Europa is currently polling at around 2%, according to Termometro Politico.

Despite the fact that Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has said that minor changes are possible, Bonino said, “we are talking about filings. So, whoever comes up with the idea of negotiating the NRRP, in my opinion, is not only living on Mars but is telling Italian citizens to go to Mars.”

That is a reference to a declaration made by Gentiloni in late June, where the Commissioner said that targeted adjustments could be made due to the crisis, as reported by Sole24 Ore.

Inflation, rising production costs, the scarcity of certain materials and implementation delays are some of the changes that could be adjusted for, according to the Commissioner, although he fell short of endorsing a full re-negotiation.

An EU official told EURACTIV Italy that these adjustments on the NRRP are possible on the energy side.

I Pnrr possono essere riadattati alla crisi energetica, afferma la Commissione

Bonino has always been a fervent pro-European and federalist.

In this campaign, she is supporting the idea of creating a unified European foreign policy and defence force, as well as an energy and health union, describing it as the best way to face the consequences of the war in Ukraine.

At the moment, according to Termometro Politico, the right-wing alliance is heading the polls and most of the parties within it are more nationalistic than the Italian liberals, although they are not as anti-EU as some years ago.

Italian senator: Renegotiation of Recovery Plan means ‘opening Pandora’s box’ |

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[Edited by Alice Taylor/Nathalie Weatherald/Benjamin Fox, János Allenbach-Ammann]


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