Italian premier urges govt to quickly agree EU bailout concept

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Rome, Dec. 30, 2020 Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday urged his coalition government to speed up agreement on how to use around 209 billion euros (257 billion dollars) from the EU coronavirus recovery fund.

“We cannot let this historic opportunity slip by and the government must not gamble away the credibility it has built,” Conte told an end-of-year news conference.

The premier’s comments follow weeks of mounting tensions in his centre-left coalition, including over a concept of how to use the aid pledged by the EU.

Conte has come up against former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who leads junior coalition party, Italia Viva.

“All is not well,” Conte admitted to journalists on Wednesday, adding that he would be seeking joint solutions for the disputes “in the interests of the country.”

Plans for the EU aid would have to be agreed in January and February, he said.

Conte has led the centre-left coalition since September 2019.

The alliance includes the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the Social Democrats (PD), along with smaller parties Italia Viva and Liberi e Uguali (The Free and Equals).