The Italian government decided on Monday on a new € 14 billion support package. helping businesses and households in difficulty with energy bills. The package will be partly funded by additional taxes collected from energy companies.
In addition, the Italian government is extending the cut in petrol pump prices. The price was cut by 0.25 euros at the beginning of April and on Monday the decision was extended until July 8th. A similar cut is planned for the consumer price of natural gas.
“This is a very exceptional situation in the energy market and needs to be addressed through exceptional measures,” said the Prime Minister Mario Draghi commented at a news conference late Monday night.
In January-March, Italy’s GDP contracted less than expected in the first quarter, by 0.2 per cent from the previous quarter.
“In the economy, we’re not talking about a recession yet, but a slowdown. However, the past month has seen a recovery, especially in employment. I think the current forecasts for the recession in the market are very pessimistic, and I do not think they will come true. It is clear that the sanctions will have a negative effect, but I do not think they will push Italy into recession. ”
In particular, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been concerned about the economic impact of sanctions. Just over a week ago, the Italian central bank, the Banca d’Italia, also assessed the economic impact of sanctions on the EU as a whole.
Earlier on Tuesday, there was media coverage of the Italian Minister for Ecological Transition Roberto Cinlogani would have said the country would pay its gas bills due in rubles due later in May.
However, the Cingolan staff was corrected in the evening that the minister had not said so. According to Cingolan, Italy pays in the agreed currencies in euros or rubles. At the same time, however, he said that the Italian government would not be able to influence it if the country’s energy companies nevertheless opened accounts with Gazprombank.
Cingolani raised the issue after arriving at the emergency meeting of energy ministers in Rome.
“My idea is exactly the same as that of the European Commission. I have nothing to add to this, the Italian line has been clear from the beginning. We do not pay in rubles. I wonder the intentions of these media who make these erroneous headlines, ”he said, referring by name to the online magazine Politico.
“The EU must be united on this, we cannot make all our own solutions,” Cingolani continued.
Prime Minister Draghi confirmed his minister’s position.
“We follow the guidelines of the European Commission. Italy has no line of action in this area. It is very important for the Commission to take a clear position on this, the Commission must determine whether the accounts opened with Gazprombank are in breach of sanctions. If there is no such line, each energy company will make its own decisions. I still believe that I am in breach of the gas supply contracts. ”
For example, Italian energy giant Eni has said it is investigating the opening of an account with Gazprombank. who would then take the payments forward in rubles. However, the position of the 30% majority-owned Italian government is different from the company’s interpretation. As early as the end of March, Draghi outlined that recycling gas payments through Gazprombank means circumventing sanctions, and Italy does not intend to do so.
Draghi reiterated at the press conference that Italy is working to get rid of Russian natural gas as soon as possible.
“And now I’m talking about weeks, not months,” he said.
Italy has already concluded agreements on additional gas purchases with Algeria, Congo, Angola and Egypt, among others.