Italy's Draghi seen presenting Recovery Plan draft to cabinet Friday -sources

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi meets journalists, in Rome, Italy, March 26, 2021. Alessandra Tarantino/Pool via REUTERS//File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Prime Minister Mario Draghi is expected to unveil a draft of Italy's Recovery Plan to cabinet on Friday, three government sources said, as he races to try to complete a final version for presentation to the European Commission next week.

Italy plans to spend more than 220 billion euros ($265.84 billion) from European Union and national funds to revive its coronavirus-battered economy, a draft seen by Reuters showed.

The draft, which is still subject to negotiation in the ruling coalition, includes dozens of projects under six headings: ecological transition, digitalisation, infrastructure, education and research, social inclusion and health.

One of the main single projects, worth more than 10 billion euros, aims to make buildings more energy efficient and earthquake-proof. More than 6 billion euros is earmarked for broadband, 5G and satellite technologies.

Rome estimates that thanks to the investments and reforms in the plan its gross domestic product in 2026 will be 3 percentage points higher than it would otherwise have been.

The formal target date for presentation by all 27 EU countries of their recovery plans is April 30, but Brussels has said this is not a rigid deadline and it is more important the plans are detailed and convincing than that they land on time.

Portugal has already presented its plan, and other countries say they will do so ahead of deadline next week.

Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said last week, however, that some governments would probably submit their plans a few weeks later.

A Reuters story on Sunday cited sources close to the dossier saying Italy may be among the countries needing some extra time because Brussels is not satisfied with several aspects of the drafts it has presented so far.

Draghi's office said the plan will definitely be presented on April 30. Meeting the deadline has become a sensitive domestic political issue, despite Brussels' more relaxed attitude.

Among Brussels' main concerns are a lack of detail on how the plan will be managed once it gets EU approval and the substance of some of the reforms outlined, such as those aimed at accelerating Italy's chronically slow justice system, the sources said.

The draft for Cabinet lists the justice system as an area due for reform but gives little detail.

Economy Minister Daniele Franco is responsible for monitoring and controlling progress in the implementation of reforms and investments, the draft said, without specifying governance procedures.

Rome is entitled to 191.5 billion euros in grants and cheap loans from the EU's so-called European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), which is the key component of an emergency programme designed to help EU nations hardest hit by the coronavirus.

The government plans to top this up with 30 billion euros of its own borrowing, for a total of 221.5 billion euros to be invested in stages through 2026.

($1 = 0.8313 euros)

(Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte and Gavin Jones; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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