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The Italian Prime Minister has remained true to his old motto “whatever it takes”, but now interprets it quite differently. 

When Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi spoke in the European Parliament on 3 May about the future of Europe, he emphasised the social costs that the pandemic and the war in Ukraine are imposing on the people of the EU member states. “No national budget is able to bear such efforts alone. No country can be left behind”, he said. 

Draghi proposed extending the “Sure” short-time work aid used during the Corona pandemic to cushion high energy prices for the population. For long-term investments in defence, energy and food security, Draghi called for debt-financed EU aid, on the model of the Corona recovery fund. “The system of staggered payments, linked to the fulfillment of certain targets, provides an effective mechanism to control the quality of spending.”

Is this the same Drahgi who, as president of the ECB, cut off financing to the Greek state? The Draghi who mercilessly  unleashed the Troika on Greece to wreak the most destructive social devastation in the country in the post-war era? In his reply to Draghi, Left Co-President Martin Schirdewan reminded him of his unpleasant role during the financial and economic crisis. “You were ECB president when the ECB punished the government of Alexis Tsipras because they resisted the dogma of austerity. The workers, the pensioners, the patients, the recipients of social benefits, everything and everywhere money was brutally cut. When the troika started its devastating work in Greece, the Greek national debt was about 150 percent of gross domestic product.” 

Draghi’s Italy is now one of the countries with the highest debt ratio in the world. The country’s public debt ratio has exploded as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and is expected to reach 160% of GDP this year. So far, however, neither the ratings agencies nor investors on financial markets are worried.  Both the EU and the ECB as well as the IMF are demonstratively calm. This is due, on the one hand, to the massive bond purchases by the ECB, which thus keeps the yields of Italian government bonds low, and, on the other hand, to the EU reconstruction fund, from which Italy will receive €200 billion in the coming years. Is the EU learning from the mistakes of the past? It is time to reform the EU accordingly with EU bonds and an end to the debt criteria, which only exist on paper anyway. Ironically, the EU is acting today as The Left demanded for Greece at the time of the financial crisis. 2022’s Mario Draghi now calls for investment in public infrastructure. 

Martin Schirdewan: “Europe only has a future if there is a “whatever it takes” that protects the people from rising energy prices, housing prices, and food prices so that inflation and the crisis do not eat up wages and pensions. A “whatever it takes” to protect the climate and the democracy from the far right, in short: a “whatever it takes” for the people and the planet.”

 

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