Italy's right-wing frontrunners see room to revamp national Recovery Plan

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Member of the European parliament Raffaele Fitto speaks at the EU parliament in Strasbourg
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By Angelo Amante and Giuseppe Fonte

ROME (Reuters) - The Brothers of Italy party, in pole position for next month's elections, sees room to revamp parts of an European Union-funded investment programme to help the economy tackle an energy crisis and soaring costs, a party official said on Monday.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi's resignation has paved the way to early elections on Sept. 25, with surveys suggesting the conservative alliance led by far-right Brothers of Italy is well placed to win a parliamentary majority.

Italy is entitled to receive more than 200 billion euros ($205.40 billion) in cheap loans and grants from the fund set up to help the bloc's 27 countries recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The outgoing government has so far secured almost 67 billion euros of EU funds. Rome now needs to reach 55 new targets in the second half of 2022 to tap additional 19 billion euros this year, but the targets should be adjusted for new challenges, said Raffaele Fitto, co-chair of the European Conservatives and Reformists,- Brothers of Italy group at the European Parliament.

"The war in Ukraine has put us in front of different goals and priorities than those that existed at the time the plan was written" in early 2021, Fitto said in written comments to Reuters.

He said EU rules allowed members to amend their national plans if some milestones and targets are no longer achievable.

Fitto said the national plan needed to take into account rising energy prices and growing costs of materials, which complicate construction companies' work on public projects.

"We don't want to throw away the current plan but ... make it more efficient and suitable to ensure structural growth," he said.

Another, senior source close to Brothers of Italy, who asked not to be named, said the party will not put at risk "any money" from the EU.

Draghi's government had ruled out renegotiating the national Recovery Plan and in May earmarked some 10 billion euros until 2026 to cope with surging costs of raw materials.

($1 = 0.9737 euros)

(Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

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