Mario Draghi attacks eurosceptics and pledges loyalty to EU – ‘Italy WON’T quit eurozone!’

Mario Draghi: Central banks are NOT powerless

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Speaking in the upper house of the Italian Parliament today, the former ECB leader left no doubts on his pro-EU stance and urged those who will support his government to accept the “irreversibility” of the decision to join the eurozone. He said: “Supporting this government means sharing the irreversibility of the choice of the euro.

“It means sharing the perspective of an increasingly integrated European Union that will deliver a common public budget capable of supporting countries in times of recession.

“The nation-states remain the reference of our citizens but in the areas defined by their weakness they surrender national sovereignty to acquire shared sovereignty.”

The pledge comes after League leader Matteo Salvini said on Tuesday “only death is irreversible” after he was challenged on Mr Draghi’s 2018 warning Italy would never leave the eurozone. 

As he led the ECB, Mr Draghi claimed the euro was “irreversible” arguing more and more people across the world wanted to join the eurozone and its successful monetary union.

He said: “The euro is the currency of 340 million people and enjoys now the support of 74 percent of citizens across the euro area.

“And more countries want to join the euro today.

“You can draw your own conclusions, but one of these conclusions is that the euro is irreversible because it is strong, because people want it and because it is of no benefit to anybody to discuss its existence.”

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Renewing his commitment to the Brussels bloc, the new Italian leader told Senators today Italy will not survive without the EU. 

He added: “Without Italy there is no Europe but outside Europe there is less Italy.

“We must be more proud of the Italian contribution to the growth and development of the European Union”.

Mr Draghi promised sweeping reforms to help rebuild Italy following the coronavirus pandemic, as he set out his priorities ahead of a mandatory confidence vote in his government of national unity.

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He was sworn into office at the weekend at the helm of a broad-based administration that has the backing of parties from across the political spectrum, to guide Italy through the coronavirus crisis and an economic slump.

In his speech, the new prime minister said his main duty was to “fight the pandemic by all means and to safeguard the lives of our fellow citizens” and he called for unity among politicians and citizens.

Mr Draghi said his government would also look to the future with a series of reforms aimed at fostering long-term growth in the eurozone’s third-largest economy, which is mired in its worst recession since World War Two.

“Today, unity is not an option, unity is a duty. But it is a duty guided by what I am sure unites us all: love for Italy,” Mr Draghi told the Senate.

His immediate concerns will be ensuring a smooth vaccination campaign against COVID-19 and re-writing plans for how to spend more than 200 billion euros ($240 billion) of European Union funds aimed at rebuilding the economy.

To guarantee the money is well spent, Mr Draghi signalled that he wants to overhaul the public administration, which is throttled by red tape, and the justice system, one of the slowest in Europe.

If he succeeds, Mr Draghi will not only help revive Italy, but will also give a boost to the whole EU, which has long fretted over chronic sluggishness in the eurozone’s third-largest economy.

He is among Europe’s most respected figures after his eight-year stewardship of the ECB, and his nomination as prime minister has been hailed by investors – as reflected in Italian bond sales on Tuesday that drew record demand.

However, he faces daunting challenges, not least keeping together his disparate coalition, which includes political foes with vastly different views on issues such as immigration and welfare.

With a vast parliamentary majority on paper, Draghi looks set to waltz through Wednesday’s confidence vote in the Senate and a similar vote in the lower house on Thursday, the final step needed for the government to exercise its full powers.

The confidence vote in the Senate is due to start at 11 pm (2200 GMT) on Wednesday.

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