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China Daily Global / 2021-02 / 04 / Page006

Eurozone savior called to Italy's side

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-04 00:00

ROME-Mario Draghi, the man credited with saving the eurozone in 2012 at the height of the debt crisis, has been tapped to help one of its weakest links, Italy.

The former head of the European Central Bank, or ECB, agreed on Wednesday to try to form a nonpolitical government to help resolve a political crisis that has threatened the ability of the eurozone's third-largest economy to confront two concurrent crises-the coronavirus emergency and a recession.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella met with Draghi, who is credited with having saved the euro during Europe's debt crisis, and gave him a mandate to try to form a new government to replace caretaker prime minister Giuseppe Conte's coalition of the 5-Star Movement and Democratic Party.

Conte was forced to resign last month after ex-leader Matteo Renzi pulled his ministers of his small, centrist Italy Alive party from Conte's government. Renzi had complained among other things about Conte's plan to spend more than $240 billion in the European Union's funds and loans to help the economy recover from the pandemic.

Known as "Super Mario "for rescuing the common currency during Europe's debt crisis, Draghi was widely seen as a possible choice to lead a nonpolitical government if Conte was unable to gain new parliamentary support.

'Never give up'

"Whatever it takes," is the famous phrase defining his turbulent period at the ECB, calming markets in 2012 with his pledge to do the maximum to save the euro.

Seven years later, he handed the reins of the bank to Christine Lagarde, telling France's ex-finance minister to "never give up".

Giuliano Noci, professor of strategy at Polytechnic University of Milan, said: "Draghi is an extremely well-prepared and determined person. He would certainly be able to lead Italy out of the crisis, with the support of the country and the parliament."

Mattarella told the nation on Tuesday that early elections were ill-advised at this crucial time.

Italy, with more than 89,000 confirmed virus deaths, has the second-highest COVID-19 death toll in Europe after the United Kingdom. It is trying to ramp up its vaccination campaign and must report back to the EU how it plans to spend the recovery funds.

"It is therefore my duty to make an appeal to all the forces in the parliament so that they grant the confidence to a high profile government not linked to any political force," Mattarella said.

News of Draghi's expected appointment was well-received by the market on Wednesday, with the Milan stock exchange rising 3 percent after opening.

Agencies via Xinhua


Mario Draghi



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