INTRODUCTION BY PM DRAGHI
The purpose of this press conference is to provide you with information regarding the issues discussed during today’s Council of Ministers meeting: the first refers to the provisions approved by the Council of Ministers regarding the Covid-19 emergency and the other refers to the justice reform, which was quickly dealt with during the Council meeting, hence why Minister Cartabia is also attending this press conference.
The two ministers will be respectively providing you with details and explanations on the various points, although I believe Health Minister Speranza will have more to say than Justice Minister Cartabia because, as I mentioned, less time was required for the point on the justice reform. In a certain way, her presence here reflects our commitment to always keep you up to date regarding changes to the justice system, as these gradually happen.
Let us begin by acknowledging something: the Italian economy is performing well, it is recovering and Italy is growing at an even higher rate than other EU countries. The Delta variant of the virus represents a threat as it spreads much quicker than other variants. Other European countries are recording higher infection rates than Italy, but we have also learnt that, if we do not take immediate action, we shall soon find ourselves in the same position, even though we may appear to be far off those numbers for the moment. So, we must imagine, assume, that what we are seeing in France, the UK and Spain may also happen in Italy if we do not take the necessary measures to stop it.
As I was saying, the Italian economy is performing well. I have stated on several occasions that this is a favourable time for Italy; this continues to be the case, but we must take further action to tackle Covid-19 if we wish this to remain so.
The provisions approved today, which Minister Speranza will be explaining later, are important because they introduce the use of the digital Covid certificate, in Italy known as the ‘Green Pass’, on a rather wide scale.
However, we must not forget that today’s improved situation is essentially thanks to the vaccination campaign, which I would like to briefly touch upon because acknowledging the improvements achieved and the speed of this campaign is a good way of reassuring people.
Approximately two thirds of Italians aged over 12 have now received at least one dose of the vaccine; over half are now fully vaccinated. Special Commissioner for the Covid-19 emergency, General Figliuolo, had set himself the target of administering at least 60 million vaccine doses by 20 July, and this has now been surpassed; as of today, we have administered approximately 105 doses for every 100 inhabitants, in line with Germany and more than in France and the United States. 90% of our over-80s and around 80% of Italians in their 70s, representing the age groups that are most at risk of Covid-19, are now fully vaccinated. There is now much less pressure on our hospitals: around 1,300 people are currently hospitalised, compared with over 30,000 four months ago; and, there are around 160 people currently in intensive care compared with 3,500 only at the end of March. The number of deaths has also reduced: 21 deaths were unfortunately recorded yesterday, although this compares with almost 400 four months ago.
In substantial terms, the situation is therefore improving greatly thanks to the progress of the vaccination campaign. Please bear in mind that estimates made a few months ago stated that, by mid-July, we could expect 1,324 deaths. There have instead been between seven and twenty (I cannot remember the exact figure). These forecasts were therefore based on a much worse situation than the one we find ourselves in today.
The vaccination campaign has allowed the economy to recover: industrial production is up 1.2% compared with the previous three months; employment is rising; the number of inactive workers is decreasing; and, during the summer, we are expecting further recovery among service sector companies.
I therefore invite all Italians to get vaccinated and to do so immediately. They must protect themselves and their families.
A brief word about digital Covid certificates, or ‘Green Passes’.
Firstly, and I want this to be very clear: the decision to introduce Green Passes was not an arbitrary one; they are a requirement in order to keep businesses open. With regard to defining classification criteria, the choice was to proceed as normal, meaning that many regions would have been classed as ‘yellow’ as they surpassed the previous criteria, or to change the criteria so as to keep the regions in the ‘white’ zone, but with the Green Pass requirement. This is what I wanted to say by way of an introduction.
With regard to the justice reform, I asked the Council of Ministers for authorisation to request a vote of confidence in Parliament when the time comes for the relative discussion and voting.
Authorisation for a vote of confidence was requested based on the fact that the draft reform was unanimously approved in the penultimate Council of Ministers meeting. At the same time, we have made it clear that we are open to technical improvements, as I also said when the text was first discussed by the Council of Ministers.
So, today I asked for a parliamentary vote of confidence on this. We are very willing, Minister Cartabia is very willing, to accept technical improvements. Should these improvements involve significant changes, we will have to return to the Council of Ministers and ask for authorisation again to request another vote of confidence in Parliament with regard to the new wording.