As Italian PM Draghi resigns, what risks being left undone?

ROME: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi resigned on Thursday (Jul 21) after his national unity government fell apart, setting the country on course for an early election in September or October and hitting financial markets.

Following are some of the measures that could be impacted by the government crisis.

SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE

Draghi helped to shape Europe’s tough response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, angering Moscow.

Draghi remains in office in a caretaker capacity and the government is allowed to send arms to Ukraine until the end of this year thanks to a bill approved in parliament earlier this year, a senior government source told Reuters.

MEASURES TO MITIGATE RISING ENERGY COSTS

Before the crisis erupted, the Italian Treasury was working on a new stimulus package worth at least 10 billion euros (US$10.2 billion) to help families and firms cope with surging energy costs, government officials have said.

Several ministers said the government still planned to approve the scheme by early August.

RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE FUND (PNRR)

Italy is entitled to benefit from more than 200 billion euros in post-pandemic recovery funds from the European Union until 2026, but must pass a series of incremental reforms to ensure the cash continues to flow.

The government so far has secured almost 67 billion euros of EU funds. Rome now needs to reach 55 new targets in the second half of 2022 to get an additional tranche worth 19 billion euros, something that analysts say might prove more difficult without Draghi at the helm.

Among the targets to be reached, Italy must by the end of this year approve steps to promote competition in product and services markets. This is triggering protests from lobby groups, especially taxi drivers who demonstrated in Rome last week.

JUSTICE REFORM

Probably the most controversial of Draghi’s 17-month premiership, the justice reform aims to cut the length of trials by 25 per cent over five years in criminal cases and by 40 per cent in civil ones, where the situation is even worse. Critics say it risks allowing thousands of criminals to escape justice by dropping cases when the appeal process drags on too long.

Before Draghi resigned, Justice Minister Marta Cartabia promised the reform would still be completed in the second half of this year.

BUDGET 2023

Italy has not had an autumn election for a century because this is traditionally when parliament passes the budget law for the following year.

If parliament fails to approve the budget by December, spending in the first four months of the following year is allocated automatically, month by month, on the basis of a draft budget outlined by the Treasury in October.

SALE OF ITA AIRWAYS

It is unclear how Draghi’s resignation could affect the planned sale of a majority stake in state-owned airline ITA Airways, the successor to Alitalia.

Shipping group MSC has filed an offer together with Germany’s Lufthansa. They faced a rival bid from U.S. financial investor Certares which was working with Air France-KLM and Delta Air Lines.

MONTE DEI PASCHI FUNDING

A strategic goal of the Treasury under Draghi’s administration is to help state-controlled bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) to raise 2.5 billion euros in cash by mid November via a new share issue.

A vote in the autumn will likely unnerve markets, making it harder for the lender to tap private investors for the part of the capital raising which is not covered by the state, bankers say.

ITALY’S UNIFIED BROADBAND NETWORK

State lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is in talks with Telecom Italia (TIM) over a plan to create a unified broadband operator by combining TIM’s fixed network infrastructure with that of state-backed rival Open Fiber.

CDP, which holds a 60 per cent stake in Open Fiber, said on Sunday the project was industrially viable and talks between the parties would continue despite the political crisis.

However, the far-right Brothers of Italy party, which is likely to emerge as the largest single party in the next parliament, is calling for CDP to stop talks with TIM, party lawmaker Alessio Butti told Reuters.