SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

‘Stability and peace’: Italian PM Draghi’s farewell warning to EU leaders

Italy's outgoing PM Mario Draghi used his last day on the European stage Friday to warn fellow leaders and his far-right successor that a united Europe should remain their "guiding star".

'Stability and peace': Italian PM Draghi's farewell warning to EU leaders
Italy's Prime Minister Mario Draghi (L) shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron at an EU leaders Summit at The European Council Building in Brussels on October 21, 2022. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

European leaders gave Draghi, a hero in Brussels during his former decade-long leadership of the European Central Bank (ECB), a warm round of applause on the last day of his final EU summit.

The 75-year-old economist was due to be replaced later on Friday as Italian prime minister by far-right eurosceptic Giorgia Meloni, leader of the post-fascist party Brothers of Italy.

As leader of the ECB in 2012, Draghi was hailed as the saviour of the euro when he faced down markets during the sovereign debt crisis, famously declaring he would do “whatever it takes” to stabilise the currency.

In Brussels, EU chief Charles Michel led tributes to Draghi at the summit table, thanking him for his work and “artful phrases, and a concise, brief and powerful style”.

The leaders were played a brief tribute video and, according to a European official in the room, Draghi received a long and warm round of applause before delivering his remarks.

READ ALSO: Far-right leader Meloni set to be named Italy’s first woman PM

“Part of the video statement says that the European Union is the guiding concept for all our countries,” he said.

“They all look at the EU as a source of security, stability and peace. We have to keep this in mind as a guiding star for the future, especially in troubled times like these.”

Mario Draghi (L) speaks with Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz (2nd L), President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (2nd R) and Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen (R) on October 21, 2022. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

The message could have been directed to his Italian nationalist successor in Rome, but also to some of Draghi’s fellow European leaders at the meeting in Brussels.

Draghi came to the summit angry over resistance to a European price cap on gas imports, accusing richer countries like Germany of out-spending smaller partners to shield their own citizens from the energy shock.

A spokesman said Draghi warned of the negative impact on European unity if countries with more fiscal firepower go it alone, and urged the creation of a “common spending capacity” to cushion consumers across Europe.

This was fiercely opposed by the EU’s so-called frugal countries – led by the Netherlands and Germany – which insist that the bloc already has enough money on hand to help governments face the crisis.

After hours of discussion, the carefully-worded summit statement reflected a difficult compromise, stressing “the importance of close coordination and of common European level solutions, where appropriate”.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

EU

Italy’s Meloni hopes EU ‘understands message’ from voters

Italy's Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said Saturday she hoped the European Union would understand the "message" sent by voters in last weekend's elections, after far-right parties such as hers made gains.

Italy's Meloni hopes EU 'understands message' from voters

Meloni, head of the post-fascist Brothers of Italy party, which performed particularly well in the vote, urged the EU to “understand the message that has come from European citizens”.

“Because if we want to draw lessons from the vote that everything was fine, I fear it would be a slightly distorted reading,” she told a press conference at the end of a G7 summit in Puglia.

“European citizens are calling for pragmatism, they are calling for an approach that is much less ideological on several major issues,” she said.

Meloni’s right-wing government coalition has vehemently opposed the European Green Deal and wants a harder stance on migration.

“Citizens vote for a reason. It seems to me that a message has arrived, and it has arrived clearly,” she said.

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on Monday to negotiate the top jobs, including whether European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen will get a second term.

Von der Leyen’s centre-right European People’s Party strengthened its grip with the vote, but her reconfirmation is not yet in the bag.

The 65-year-old conservative was in Puglia for the G7 and likely used the summit to put her case to the leaders of France, Germany and Italy.

But Meloni refused to be drawn on whom she is backing.

“We will have a meeting on Monday, we’ll see,” she told journalists.

“We will also see what the evaluations will be on the other top roles,” she said.

Italian political watchers say Meloni is expected to back von der Leyen, but is unlikely to confirm that openly until Rome locks in a deal on commissioner jobs.

“What interests me is that… Italy is recognised for the role it deserves,” she said.

“I will then make my assessments.”

Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani indicated that it was unlikely any decision would be made before the French elections on June 30 and July 7.

SHOW COMMENTS