The fulfilment of Italy’s economic recovery plan is set to top the agenda when new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni meets EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday (3 November).
The Italian leader will perform her first visit outside Italy in Brussels, meeting EU Council President Charles Michel, EU Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.
“We will also talk about the need to implement the NRP that Italy is already applying.” Commission spokesperson Dana Spinant told reporters on Monday (31 October), during the midday briefing.
Meloni still supports the idea of renegotiating the plan for Italy, the biggest single beneficiary from the €750 billion.
The topic is still at the centre of political debate, after Meloni mentioned it during her speech to the Italian parliament on 25 October.
In her election campaign, Meloni called for the renegotiation of the plan, but in her first speech as prime minister, she indicated that the government only aims to rewrite the tenders to adapt them to higher raw material prices. Italy stands to receive over €190 billion in loans and grants from the recovery fund.
Nationalism meets the hard reality of the EU recovery fund
This week’s EU Politics Decoded looks at Giorgia Meloni’s new right-wing government in Italy and assess the likely gap between her Brussels-bashing rhetoric on the campaign trail and the reality of governing in an economic crisis.
The implementation of the recovery plan is well underway, and as a result, a full renegotiation seems unlikely.
The Italian plan was approved last June, and the first two disbursements made (a pre-financing payment of €24.9 billion in August 2021 and the first payment of €21 billion in April 2022).
Italy submitted another payment request for €21 billion at the end of June, that the Commission approved at the end of September.
According to the regulation, the reforms and investments should be implemented within August 2026.
Any further renegotiation would create delays and the likely request by other member states to proceed with similar reviews.
However, the war in Ukraine and its effects, such as the spike in inflation and food and fuel prices, were not predicted by the national plans. Meanwhile, EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has signalled that minor changes to national recovery plans might be possible.
In May 2022, the Commission mooted the possibility of reviewing a specific “milestone or target” if increasing costs dramatically affect a measure in a national recovery plan.
The member state in question is required to show evidence of direct impact “on the measure(s) they seek to revise”.
Revisions are not allowed for measures “that are not directly concerned by prices of raw materials or important supply chain constraints”.
Any change to reforms approved back in 2021, are not possible.
[Edited by Benjamin Fox]