EU powergrab: Macron and Draghi plot new alliance – Europhiles unite as Merkel replaced

ECB conference: Mario Draghi discusses policy stance

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According to Italian media, the two leaders met ahead of the European Council meeting last week, in a sign they would come before the rest of the EU27 chiefs with a united stance. Italian newspaper Il Foglio claimed the pair united on various themes during the Council virtual meeting, ranging from vaccine protectionism to strengthening defence and security.

They wrote: “Regarding the exports of vaccines produced in Europe, which Draghi would like to block [according to indiscretions], the Italian Prime Minister asked Ursula von der Leyen a clear question: ‘ If the United States is doing it, why not  us?’

“As for Macron, he was even more insistent in demanding that the mechanism for controlling vaccine exports be used more aggressively.”

The Italian newspaper said an alliance on increasing the strategic autonomy of the bloc was also noticeable between the two leaders.

They added: “Both policies have sent essentially the same message when it comes to the question of the EU’s strategic autonomy: Europe must learn to rely first and foremost on itself.”

The Italian daily also evoked a “French connection” of Mr Draghi in Paris were the former boss of the European Central Bank (ECB) would have a “true galaxy of support”.

They named Alan Minc, an economist and close ally of President Macron, among those who would back such a new alliance of powers in the bloc.

This would be the perfect opportunity for the French President to take the leadership of the EU once Angela Merkel leaves the national and European political scene.

Mr Draghi, was sworn-in as Italy’s new Prime Minister earlier last month.

Among his first major tasks will be to accelerate the vaccination programme and rescue the economy from its worst recession since World War 2.

He could also shape the future of European politics and restore transatlantic relations with the US.

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Senior writer at Barron’s Group, Pierre Briançon, wrote on Twitter: “Draghi as Italian Prime Minister does not only change Italy, it could also upset the EU’s comfy balance of power, based for too long on the Franco-German duo.

“A third heavyweight around the leaders’ table.

“Macron and Merkel (and her successor) will have to deal with an influential voice, whose competence in economic and monetary matters dwarfs theirs (to say the least) and whose international aura and prestige at least equals their own.

“Should make for interesting intra-EU dynamics.”

At the Council meeting, the Italian leader also took the first opportunity to put his foot down on the EU’s procurement of vaccine doses.

He said new scientific evidence paved the way for the bloc to speed up its rollout of Covid jabs.

Mr Draghi said the bloc needs to accelerate its sluggish rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the premier suggested “giving priority to the first doses” of the vaccine was a potential solution.

Mr Draghi said the move should be considered “in the light of recent scientific literature”.

But he also proposed a greater crackdown on European manufacturers shipping vaccines abroad.

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