ECB conference: Mario Draghi discusses policy stance

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The former President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, has been sworn-in as Italy’s next Prime Minister. Mr Draghi, a prominent economist, accepted the top role on Friday and later that day read out a list of ministerial picks designed to create consensus among political parties. His new administration, consisting of a mix of technocrats and politicians, are now set to take office on Tuesday after a vote from both houses of the Italian Parliament.

This is expected to be a formality as a majority of lawmakers have already indicated they would support Mr Draghi.

Italy’s government crisis was triggered last month when former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s Italia Viva party withdrew its support from the coalition, amid a row over how to spend the €200billion (£174.5bn)-plus that Rome is poised to receive from the EU’s coronavirus recovery fund.

The expectations that Mr Draghi will be able to reverse Italy’s fortunes are therefore as high as the stakes.

Among his first major tasks will be to accelerate a vaccination programme as Italy strives to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far left 93,000 people dead.

At the same time, he will be expected to rescue the economy from the worst recession since World War 2.

If he prevails, Mr Draghi is likely to bolster the entire eurozone, which has long fretted over Italy’s perennial problems.

In an exclusive interview with, Italian MEP Antonio Maria Rinaldi suggested the EU might actually be the force behind Mr Draghi’s appointment.

He said: “EU chiefs are incredibly happy about Mr Draghi becoming Prime Minister of Italy.

“After all, he is one of them.

“They could even be the force behind it.

“It wouldn’t be the first time the EU has meddled with the internal politics of member states.”

In 2011, the EU was accused of carrying out a coup after the former President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, threatened Greece with “paralysis of the country” unless MPs removed their Prime Minister to form an unelected “national unity government”.

Former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou unexpectedly announced a referendum to approve a second EU bail-out deal for his austerity-hit country, less than a week after it was agreed with international creditors at a European Union summit.

However, the response by the democratic leaders of the EU was swift and crystal clear: Greece would not receive another cent unless Mr Papandreou was removed in favour of a “national unity government”.

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According to a 2011 Telegraph report, Mr Barroso warned that unless Mr Papandreou was deposed, Greece would not be able get its next payment from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, leading to national default and bankruptcy.

He said: “What we expect to happen is to have a government of national unity.

“What is the other option?

“Default and have real difficulties to pay wages to the public servants, to the schools, to the hospitals, which will lead to paralysis of the country.

“I am sure that the majority of the Greek people do not want this kind of chaos.”

Even after Mr Papandreou abandoned his plan to hold the referendum, senior French, German and European officials demanded he stepped down to allow for a “technical” government that could implement the measures.

Mr Barroso said at the time: “We respect Greek democracy and Greece’s right to decide on its own future.

“At the same time, we need Greece to demonstrate commitment to the decisions that it has itself subscribed to.”

Economic analyst of the Open Europe think tank Raoul Ruparel said a new “compliant” Greek government would have been a “victory for the EU elite”.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage accused then-Prime Minister David Cameron of giving tacit agreement to the overthrow of European democracies by supporting closer “fiscal union” in the eurozone and EU.

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He said: “Cameron is actively encouraging the countries of southern Europe to sleepwalk into slow-motion, sugar-coated coup d’etat.”

Le Soir newspaper in Belgium described German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy as “putschists at the head of Europe”.

Mrs Merkel and Mr Sarkozy summoned Mr Papandreou to Cannes to instruct him to call off his plans to hold popular votes on Greece’s involvement in Europe.

The former Prime Minister was accompanied by Evangelos Venizelos, his then-finance minister, and they were given the ultimatum that Greece would not receive “a penny more” in aid payments unless Athens convinced the EU that it was “ready to make the commitments that come with euro membership”.

On returning from the meeting, Mr Venizelos set about preparing the ground for Mr Papandreou’s departure and a new transitional national unity government involving the Right-wing opposition.

Mr Papanderou dutifully resigned on November 11, 2011.

His successor, Lucas Papademos, was sworn in two days later.

As a former Vice President of the European Central Bank (ECB), he was considered a safe pair of hands by the Troika: the consortium of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund that provided the bailouts.

The Greek people, however, were not consulted.

Once in power, obtained with no democratic mandate, Mr Papademos’ government approved a further round of austerity measures in February 2012, including a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage, €300million (£262million) in pension cuts, and the tearing up of workers’ rights.

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