Pedro Sánchez is the prime minister of Spain.
I met Mario Draghi when he was president of the European Central Bank. We all remember his key role in defending the euro, when he managed to calm the markets down with the announcement that he would do “whatever it takes” to contain the crisis, confidently stating it would be enough.
And it was.
Europe needs leaders like Mario.
I have had the privilege of joining him in many long sessions of the European Council. I also had a fruitful bilateral meeting with him last June in Barcelona, and, most recently, we participated in the NATO summit in Madrid. His intelligent, creative and constructive reflections always contribute to us securing good results in a good atmosphere of consensus — which is so needed in these times of crisis.
Since 2020, Europe has been facing extraordinary challenges: first, a once-in-a-century pandemic, and now, a war on European soil, which we all imagined unthinkable. And faced with both, we can proudly declare that we, Europeans, have risen to the occasion.
The role of Italy, one of the largest countries of the European Union, has been crucial.
Some months ago, with then Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and seven other EU leaders, we signed a letter calling — for the first time — for the launch of a common debt instrument to facilitate a solid recovery from the serious socio-economic crisis caused by the pandemic. And, in recent months, Mario Draghi’s government has been implementing the Italian Recovery Plan, which — like the Spanish one — must profoundly transform and modernize our economies. That is the idea behind “NextGenerationEU.”
How the plan is implemented in Italy and Spain will determine the overall success of NextGenerationEU, since we are the member countries that will receive the largest share of the funds. Mario Draghi and I are aware of that, and so are our nations.
When we were fighting against the impact of the pandemic, Mario’s Europeanism was also evident in the joint purchase of vaccines and the approval of the EU Digital Covid Certificate.
Now, with rising energy prices, supply instability and, more broadly, rising inflation caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine, we face a new challenge. And Mario’s ideas in recent months have been key in our debates. Italy and Spain have led the way, putting forward proposals, such as the joint purchase of gas and a gas price cap.
After the pandemic, and in the face of the war and its consequences, the EU must continue to advance on the path to recovery and the transformation toward green and digital transitions, while maintaining social cohesion.
This is the path that the Spanish and Italian governments are following. And we must continue to do so, showing determination and unity among the 27, just as Mario Draghi has done so far.