Italy Approves Plan to Cut Red Tape as Draghi’s Support Soars

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet backed a plan to reduce bureaucratic obstacles, a key commitment he made to unlock the first tranche of 24 billion euros ($29 billion) in European Union recovery funds.

The decree approved late Friday seeks to facilitate public-works projects and streamline tender procedures, easing a long-standing impediment to governments seeking to spur growth.

The green light for the plan comes amid rising support for policies adopted by the former European Central Bank head since he took office in February. According to an Ipsos poll published in Corriere della Sera on Saturday, 66% of Italians are in favor of Draghi’s agenda, up from 58% at the end of April.

The new measures also seek to hasten a nationwide expansion of broadband service, speed up authorization of renewable-energy projects and boost employment among women and youths. A board to oversee management of EU funds of about 200 billion euros due to Italy is included in the decree.

Though ambitious in scope, Draghi’s plans will ultimately be judged by their effectiveness. Numerous past governments, including that of his immediate predecessor, Giuseppe Conte, tried to streamline bureaucracy with limited success.

Italy is set to be the biggest recipient of funds under the EU’s recovery program, and Draghi is seeking to use the money to spur an economic rebound after growth shrank 8.9% last year due to pandemic lockdowns. Industry lobby group Confindustria expects the economy to rebound significantly in the third and fourth quarter, with growth above 4%.

The government earlier approved a 40 billion-euro stimulus package that extends economic aid to businesses and families.

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