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Statement by President von der Leyen on Italy's recovery and resilience plan

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op dinsdag 22 juni 2021.

Dear Mario,

It is so good to be back here in Rome, and this is a very special moment for Italy indeed, but it is also a very special moment for the European Union. The vaccination campaign is progressing, as well as the ‘squadra azzurra', and the entire country and the economy are opening again, tourists are back. And I am very glad that I can share this moment with you. And I thank you very much for bringing me here to Cinecittà - the grand Federico Fellini, ‘la strada', ‘la dolce vita'. But you described that it is also about culture, it is about art, it is about the artists who have been suffering so much in the pandemic. And it is good to be here and to have been able to look at what you are going to do with the investments coming through NextGenerationEU.

Indeed, NextGenerationEU has put together the largest Recovery Package in Europe's history - larger than the Marshall Plan - EUR 800 billion in today's prices. And indeed, Italy will receive the largest share, EUR 191 billion. And for your plan - Next Generation Italia Domani - it is made here in Italy for the Italian people. It is a generational opportunity, indeed, to invest in Italy's strength to make Italy an engine for growth in Europe.

And today, I am here to announce that you have the European Commission's full backing. This follows excellent cooperation - and I really want to thank you for that Mario - between our teams and the thorough assessment by the European Commission. I know that the people of Italy have gone through hard and tough times. But you have pulled each other through together. You have helped each other make it through the crisis. And by doing so, you have inspired a whole continent. You showed the true meaning of the word ‘solidarity'. And the rest of Europe is following your way.

NextGenerationEU is an exceptional response to an exceptional crisis. And it can reshape our continent for decades ahead. It will make the European Green Deal a reality. It is the moment to digitise our economies. And it is the moment to inject new energy in Europe's unique social market economy. 37% of NextGenerationEU Italia Domani will support our green objectives, from large-scale energy efficiency works for public buildings and houses, tax incentives, direct investment; to sustainable urban mobility, for example; but also to increase the use of renewable energy, for example, measures to push offshore production of power or smart electricity grid. One of Italy's greatest assets is your unique nature. So I am very glad to see the reforestation in the package, and the sea and marine habitat protection. By that, you protect in Italy what is investing in your growth and your future.

The Italian plan has the same level of ambition on the other landmark goal, and that is digitalisation. You are investing in 5G networks, high-speed Internet and digital skills, in the universities but also in the digitalisation of the healthcare sector - I really appreciate that. The plan will make public administrations go digital too, so better services for Italian people but also for Italian businesses. And I also strongly support, you have described it, your focus on young people - they have suffered so much during this crisis - and the active labour market policies you want to apply to bring them into employment, to give new opportunities, specifically to women. I was very glad to see that you are increasing the supply of childcare facilities. This is about reconciliation of work and family.

And finally, the plan presents crucial reforms from cutting red tape in the public administration and reforming the justice system, to strengthen the business environment, and helping Italian companies to compete in an increasingly multipolar world. These are reforms, the Italians have been asking for years. And they are now happening with NextGenerationEU Italia Domani.

In short, NextGenerationEU Italia Domani clearly meets the demanding criteria we have jointly established. It is ambitious, it is far-sighted and it will help build a better future for Italian people and our European Union. Our approval today is an important milestone for the disbursement of more than EUR 190 billion over the next years. And once the plan is approved, and that should be the case in about four weeks, by the Council, we will be ready to disburse the first funds.

And yes, Mario, this is not the end of a common journey, it is the beginning. It is the beginning of implementation, that will require hard work. I just wanted to say that I will be at your side, the Commission will be at your side at every step on this ambitious way to the future. The Commission will be vigilant and ensure that the full potential of NextGenerationEU is felt. Your success is our success, the Italian success is a European success, because a strong Italy makes Europe stronger. And with that, dear Mario, I hand over to you the assessment of the European Commission and our positive response.

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