Meloni – von der Leyen Meeting: ‘Italy on Track for NRRP Roadmap’

Trade and Economics - April 9, 2024

The Meloni government hits another target on the NRRP front. This was also highlighted by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen when she visited Italy in Forlì on January 17. “Italy is absolutely in line with the roadmap for what concerns the implementation of the NRRP, the European Commission has already disbursed the fourth installment at the end of December. This means that half of the NRRP funds have been disbursed and this is very good news“, von der Leyen announced during the press point held at the end of the bilateral meeting with the Italian Prime Minister. The two leaders were in Emilia Romagna for a summit centered on what happened in May of last year. The flooding, which caused extensive damage to the population, was not the only topic discussed during the talks that lasted over an hour. Among the other matters discussed: the upcoming European Council, the issue of migration and the Italy-Africa Conference that took place on January 28.


Flooding in Emilia Romagna: Europe’s support

During her speech, von der Leyen did not fail to remind the press and other political figures present – including Regional President Bonaccini, Mayor Zattini, Commissioner Figliuolo, and Minister Fitto – of Europe’s support.

When I came here in May“, she reported, “I told you that you had to stay strong and that Europe would stand by you. Now I want to tell you that we will continue to stand by your side for as long as you need to recover. Tin bota, Europe stays with you“.

She also reminded those present that, in addition to the event itself, the EU also works in terms of prevention and opened an important parenthesis on the climate issue. “The global warming is ongoing and climate events will become even more frequent, so we have to fight climate change with prevention. What is good for the climate is also good for the economy“.

This is a particularly heartfelt topic, dealt with at length during and after COP28 last December, during which PM Meloni had interesting meetings in this regard with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President Isaac Herzog of the State of Israel, Prime Minister of Lebanon Najib Miqati, President Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates, President Abdelfattah al-Sisi of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida.

Ursula von der Leyen’s speech also clarified how Italy is moving swiftly on NRRP funds, not only to support Emilia Romagna – for which, as Premier Meloni later explained, “1.2 billion euros are earmarked in addition to the resources already allocated by the government,” – but also to concretize other structural interventions for regions that have suffered the ruthlessness of destructive climatic events.

On the subject, during the press conference, Meloni explained that the resources – the result of a successful revision – will therefore not only ensure the securing of built-up areas and of catchment basins exposed to hydrogeological risk, but will also ensure “actions of environmental remediation and of plans of mitigation of the effects of climate change, guaranteeing a decidedly higher level of flood risk management control as well as the rehabilitation and redevelopment of public housing stock, social and health facilities, schools, sports infrastructure, and energy networks“. So, a well-rounded intervention that establishes the State’s commitment to identify critical issues, correct inaccurate management, and provide citizens with adequate services and facilities. But it does not end here: there is another element that must be considered in the implementation of the project.

It’s a job that, as Meloni herself stated, must be carried out with celerity. “Our schedule“, she shared, “will be one that calls for the identification of all punctual interventions by the third quarter of 2024, the awarding of all contracts by the second quarter of 2025, and the completion of 90 percent of the works by the end of 2026: it means having to work and work fast”.


But Europe has done more: the European Solidarity Fund and the resources put in place

It should also be mentioned that the EU’s support has not been limited to the resources allocated by the NRRP, but also applies to the European Solidarity Fund: a topic, among others, extensively covered during the European Commission’s first visit in May of last year.

There is an instance there that is taken care of by the Civil Protection Department with the contribution, of course, of the Emilia Romagna Region, instance that could bring an additional contribution, if I am not mistaken, of 378 million euros, but already 95 have been very quickly advanced by the European Commission. So, another important commitment of which I would like to make mention, since we are here to bring concrete answers“.


The Mattei Plan

The conversation between Meloni and von der Leyen then explored other topical issues, ranging from the upcoming European Council – “very important, where we’ll go back to discuss the multi-year budget review, the mid-term review” and, clearly, the conflict in Ukraine – to migration and the approach put in place by Italy, approach that intends to work on an external dimension rather than addressing the problem when it is already too late.

Finally, the Italian Prime Minister thanked Ursula von der Leyen for taking part in the Italy-Africa Conference on 28 and 29 January of this year, together with several African heads of state and government, “to continue to talk about the European approach, the Italian approach represented by the Mattei Plan, confronting these countries in a new, non-predatory way, certainly as equals, so that with these nations we can build important things in the long run“.

As for the Mattei Plan, that intends to strengthen the network between Italy and African states and that has already obtained the final yes in the House (169 votes in favor, 119 against and 3 abstentions), it was one of the topics of the conference. During the meeting, in fact, the seven articles that compose the law were scrutinized, and the steps and strategies to be implemented over the next four years covered by the measure were shared.


The Italian Presidency of the G7

On the other hand, as of January 1, 2024, Italy has taken over the presidency of the G7, something that not only makes the Country a key player on the international stage, but that also further qualifies it to share opportunities and reflections on the issue of migration and the growth of the states in Africa.

The presidency will have a natural projection on the Mediterranean“, explained Vice-Premier Antonio Tajani, regarding the Italian presidency of the G7, “and we have the responsibility to promote solutions that favor peace and stability in the entire region, starting with the conflict currently underway in the Middle East. We will also continue to strongly support Ukraine, on the reconstruction front as well“.

Tajani went on to highlight the centrality of the Balkans in the international context, recalling that this is an area of strategic importance as far as the stability of Europe is concerned; and the relevance of Africa, “a continent where we want to promote equal, effective and mutually beneficial partnerships with African countries, for the continent’s security and resilience“.

In short: while fully aware of a dense agenda that requires great celerity and dynamism, the Italian government recognizes that one of the focal points concerns the network to be forged with “global players,” as well as the attention that will have to be paid to the complexity of the challenges to be faced. An eventful 2024 that may redefine and redraw relationships, boundaries and approaches.