Italy’s PM Conte vows 'political synthesis' for Recovery Plan

Italy’s PM Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday said he vowed a "political synthesis" for Italy's coronavirus Recovery Plan, adding that the cabinet would meet in early January to ward off a threat from key ally and former premier Matteo Renzi to bring down the government over the way the plan will be implemented, ANSA reported.

Conte was speaking at his year-end press conference shortly after centrist Italia Viva (IV) leader Renzi said "we want stability but if there is immobilism then the legislature ends". Conte said the current "verification" of government support would be accelerated and the Recovery Plan, tapping €209bn from the EU's Recovery Fund, would be finalised by mid February.

Renzi objects to the use of a task force to implement the plan saying this would delegitimise ministries. Conte has already said the role of the task force will be scaled back.

"We are looking to last out the legislative term (until 2023) but we must not tread water," said the premier, who leads an alliance of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S), the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the smaller leftwing Free and Equal (LeU) part, and former PD leader Renzi's IV.

Conte reiterated that the final document on the Recovery Plan would be "ready by the middle of February". The premier said the government must not squander the "patrimony of credibility" it has built up with its handling of the COVID crisis.

Referring to Renzi's threat, Conte said "ultimatums are not admissible; I'm in favour of dialogue." If a snap election is indeed called, he said he would not run, stressing that "electoral campaigns are not for me".

Finally, on the use of the European Stability Mechanism's €37bn for COVID spending, which the PD advocates in the face of stiff opposition from the M5S, Conte said that "we'll discuss everything but parliament will decide".

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