ROME «Italy will not lose anything. We go ahead: we do our homework, and in the end the results will come».
The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, is absolutely convinced about the NRRP. He claims the flexibility about which Prime Minister Meloni’s government has always spoken, but he does not want to hear about doubts: «We will spend all the NRRP funds».
Isn’t Italy struggling more than others to keep up with commitments and deadlines?
«No, it is not. Look, everyone has the problems we have. Everywhere they are changing projects. It seems to me that Germany and even other countries have far greater problems than ours. As I always said, I think that flexibility is a right thing».
Why a right thing?
«The EU Recovery Plan, of which the NRRP is a part, was born out of a major shift in European policy. Let me remind you that this is the brainchild of the European People’s Party and President Berlusconi. The starting point is that the NRRP was born to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The idea was and still is the following: let us see where the rubble falls; let us assess the situation after the dust has settled, and at that juncture we could better understand how to fix a better target and put things right».
The EU, however, is rebuking us…
“We only believe in objective criticism, which is not dependent on political stances. I repeat: Italy will provide the corrections by 31 August and we will have all the funds planned».
Will the Florence and Venice stadiums also be there? “
«Look, the two stadiums had already been approved by the EU Commission. It then probably changed its mind…. In any case, within a short time the third tranche will arrive and everything will be in the right place»
Even the Court of Auditors, however, reports some delays: in 2023 we spent 1.1 billion compared to 32.7…
«The Court of Auditors is doing its job, and the checks and audits are right. However, est modus in rebus. I agree with what Minister Fitto said: we expect a constructive approach. We all have to work together to make things move forward in the best possible way, and we are absolutely ready to cooperate. But it is up to the government to make decisions, and I think there is plenty of opportunities for discussion: we have meetings all the time. We are well aware of the importance of this game: without NRRP our growth would drop from 1.2 to 0.4 per cent. This is something that no one forgets: the objective that we pursue with great commitment and determination is growth».
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said that “we can have good relations with China without them necessarily being part of an overall strategic plan”. Is this the end of the Silk Road?
«We are evaluating the agreement and there will be a decision. It is certainly true that trade relations, as well as exchange of views and cooperation, existed before and can exist even without the written agreement. It is not the Silk Road that regulates the friendly relationship between Italy and China».
If Italy did not renew the agreement, would there be no retaliation or penalties?
«There is no penalty. There is an automatic renewal of the Memorandum and we are just evaluating what to do. The agreement expires at the end of this year and it is right to carefully evaluate such an important issue with so many aspects at stake. In any case, we look at China positively. Wang Yi’s visit last February went well, and we appreciate the work of the FAO Director General, Qu Dongyu. In short, we want to have good relations with China; we certainly have no negative bias. But, indeed, much can be done even without the Silk Road».
Minister, let us change topic. Are those who criticize the RAI appointments wrong?
«I would like a simple fact to be recognized : the RAI appointments have been of great quality. Gian Marco Chiocci at Tg1 is an extraordinarily good journalist that no one could question. Antonio Preziosi was the expert director of Rai Parlamento, as well as the correspondent from Brussels; he has written many books and is a moderate, certainly not an extremist. What are we talking about? That if someone does not like some of the people appointed, dictatorship is established? Please… ».
After Fabio Fazio, Lucia Annunziata has also left. Are they not severe losses for RAI?
«Look, no one would dream of cancelling her programme, I respect her and I used to take part in her programmes. Maybe she has other ideas in mind; who knows, maybe she is thinking about politics, about running for the European elections. I think her contribution would enrich politics. The same applies to Fabio Fazio: he decided to leave».
Both were always hauled over the coals, were they not?
«Not at all. Criticism is one thing, which is always legitimate. Ousting someone is another thing. Indeed, I would – if anything – note something else».
“When the Left had a way of deciding, the replaced journalists ended up being marginalized and doing nothing maybe for years. Today the journalists who have been replaced have all been given important posts. It is not as if RAI can remain a one-party show for eternity».