Draghi: Seven key quotes from the new Italian PM’s first speech

Italy's new prime minister Mario Draghi on Wednesday morning made his first address to the Senate since taking office, outlining plans for managing the pandemic and rebuilding the economy. Here are some of the most notable quotes from his speech.

Draghi: Seven key quotes from the new Italian PM's first speech
Italy's new prime minister Mario Draghi addressing senators on Wednesday. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/Pool/AFP

Draghi, former head of the European Central Bank, spoke in the Senate before his government faces a confidence vote later on Wednesday.

PROFILE: Who is new Italian prime minister Mario Draghi?

His address in the morning was the first time he had spoken since becoming PM, other than giving a short acceptance speech after being sworn in on Saturday.

He spoke for almost an hour as he appealed for broad political support to face the ongoing crisis, announcing his intention to speed up vaccinations and reform everything from education to healthcare, tax and public administration.

The full text of Draghi's speech can be found here (in Italian). Below we've listed some of the main points he made:

1. Fighting the coronavirus pandemic “with all means”

Draghi stressed that his first priority was fighting the pandemic.

“The main duty to which we are all called, starting from me as prime minister, is to fight the pandemic with all means and safeguard the lives of our fellow citizens,” he said, adding that the virus was “everybody's enemy”

READ ALSO: How will Italy's Covid-19 strategy change under the new government?

However, he has not yet detailed any plans for further restrictions under the new emergency decree due by March 5th.

2. Vaccinations to be carried out “in every available public and private space”.

Draghi has already said that speeding up Italy's vaccination plan is another of his main priorities, and on Wednesday he spoke of expanding the current programme.

The vaccine rollout must involve the army, civil protection and volunteer services, he said, adding that “we have a duty to make (vaccines) possible in every available public and private space”.

3. “There is no sovereignty in solitude. Without us, there is no EU.”

Draghi's speech also stressed Italy's role “as a founding member of the European Union, and as a protagonist of the Atlantic Alliance.”

“We are a great economic and cultural power,” he said. “We have to be prouder, fairer and more generous towards our country. Without Italy there is no Europe.”

He added that supporting his government meant backing the idea of “an ever more integrated European Union”.

“Supporting this government means recognising the irreversibility of the choice of the euro,” he added.

4. Italy has an “opportunity” for rebuilding and reform

Draghi said the coronavirus crisis presented an opportunity for Italy to rebuild just as it did after World War II, as part of a more integrated EU.

“Today we have, as did the governments of the immediate post-war period, the opportunity or rather the responsibility to start a new reconstruction,” he said.

Italy expects to receive more than 200 billion euros  from the EU's post-coronavirus recovery fund, and Draghi insists the money will be used for major reforms.

“These resources will have to be spent with an aim to improve the growth potential of our economy,” Draghi said.

He promised reform to Italy's stifling bureaucracy, labyrinthine tax code and snail-paced justice system, as well as a focus on education and closing the gap on female employment.

5. Gender equality must go “beyond the choice between family and work”

Draghi acknowledged that the crisis has hit young people and women particularly hard, as they suffered the brunt of some 450,000 job losses in the past year.

The economy shrank by almost nine per cent last year, one of the worst results in the eurozone.

He said that closing the gender gap at work, particularly in the south of the country, would be key to restructuring.

“Italy today has one of the worst wage gaps between genders in Europe, as well as a chronic shortage of women in senior managerial positions,” he said.

Gender equality means “rebalancing of the wage gap and welfare system, beyond the choice between family and work,” he said.

6. “We want to leave a good planet, not just a good currency.” 

Draghi, a practicing Catholic, quoted Pope Francis in saying 'Natural tragedies are the earth's response to our mistreatment”, as he spoke of his intentions to create a more sustainable economy.

He sad “the economic policy response to climate change and the pandemic” meant that some economic sectors “will have to change, even radically.”

7. “Unity is not an option but a duty”

Senators applauded 21 times during the speech, but the longest applause came when Draghi stated that “Today unity is not an option but a duty”.

“But it is a duty guided by what I am sure unites us all: love for Italy,” he said.

After a debate on his programme, the Senate will vote at 10pm on Wednesday on supporting Draghi's government, before another vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies on Thursday.

The votes are largely procedural given how many parties support Draghi.

Member comments

  1. I whole heartily support the actions that “Super Mario” lines up. However, if there are any monies left to spare, an investment – call it infrastructure – in making the internet work – throughout Italy – could for once get Italy an advantage. Working from home will also be relevant after Corona. Today, it is virtually impossible in Italy, but also in other countries like Germany, due to the poor roll out of efficient services. If one could (maybe nationlised, which has only been done in Finland so far) roll out internet to the highest possible standard through out Italy, it would get tremendous gains in efficiency. If one combined this with a huge, and much needed reduction of bureaucracy, Italy might have a chance of getting ahead of the game. This would initially lead to some unemployment, because there is a large number of people in Italy doing little and producing nothing, but long-term it could lead to increase in productivity and growth.

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Italy’s government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

Italy's new government issued a decree on Thursday to continue sending weapons to Ukraine through 2023, continuing the previous administration's policy of support to Kyiv.

Italy's government to continue sending weapons to Ukraine in 2023

The decree extends to December 31, 2023 an existing authorisation for “the transfer of military means, materials and equipment to the government authorities of Ukraine,” according to a government statement.

Since taking office in October, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has repeatedly voiced her support for Kyiv while underlying the importance of the Atlantic alliance.

In her first speech to parliament, the leader of the Brothers of Italy party pledged to “continue to be a reliable partner of NATO in supporting Ukraine.”

Her predecessor Mario Draghi was a staunch supporter of Kyiv, but the issue of sending arms to Ukraine split the biggest party in parliament during his coalition government, the Five Star Movement.

That friction led to the early elections that brought Meloni to power.

Parliament now has 60 days to vote the decree into law.

READ ALSO: Outcry in Italy after Berlusconi defends Putin’s invasion of Ukraine

Despite Meloni’s efforts to reassure her Western allies of Italy’s support for the EU’s and NATO’s Ukraine strategy, including sanctions on Russia, the close ties to Russia of her two coalition partners have come under scrutiny.

Both Matteo Salvini of the League party and former premier Silvio Berlusconi, who leads Forza Italia, have long enjoyed warm relations with Russia.

In October, an audio tape of Berlusconi was leaked to the media in which the former premier described how he had received a birthday present of vodka from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the tape, he also expressed concerns about sending weapons and cash to Kyiv and appeared to blame the war on Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Berlusconi later issued a statement saying his personal position on Ukraine “does not deviate” from that of Italy and the EU.

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Salvini, too, has come under fire for his relations with Moscow, including a report that he dined with Russia’s ambassador to Rome just days after that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Salvini, who has criticised EU sanctions as ineffective, has long admired Putin, even wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the Russian leader’s face.