EU coronavirus fault lines over Italy’s demand for a “European recovery bond”
Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The coronavirus crisis is highlighting the deep divisions that exist inside the European Union (EU). This reality will likely set off new EU convulsions based on the limited response of this bloc. Therefore, during Europe’s hour of need, the EU seems bereft of acting with cohesion.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy was scathing about the timid approach of the EU for not coming up with a framework to support nations blighted by the coronavirus crisis. Hence, Conte insisted that the EU had ten days to resolve the economic crisis.
Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, uttered, “When Europe really needed to be there for each other, too many initially looked out for themselves. When Europe really needed an ‘all for one’ spirit too many initially gave an ‘only for me’ response.”
The above comment is visible in Italy where currently more deaths from coronavirus have occurred than any other nation. Despite this, the nations of China, Cuba, and the Russian Federation sent medical assistance to Italy along with people on the ground. Hence, with the death toll on 26 March for the worse hit EU nations being 8,215 in Italy, 4,365 in Spain, and 1,696 in France then help was needed. Therefore, it is shocking that non-EU nations have provided important medical assistance to Italy while the EU mainly looked on.
Ursula von der Leyen continued, “When Europe really needed to prove that this is not only a fair weather union, too many initially refused to share their umbrella”
In recent days France and Germany have begun to provide EU nations with more medical assistance. However, it was China, Cuba, and the Russian Federation who helped Italy first before the EU feared the political angle.
Ursula von der Leyen says people “Will remember who was there for them and who was not and will remember those that acted and those who did not.”
The Guardian reports, “With Italy’s economy on a downward spiral as a result of the lockdown to fight the outbreak, Conte unveiled a second stimulus package worth more than the €25bn package ($27.43bn) adopted in March. But the extra spending will send the government shooting over budget deficit targets.”
Hence, Italy is seeking a “European Recovery Bond” to help nations recover from the horrendous economic angle of the coronavirus crisis. Yet, more fiscal conservative nations currently oppose Conte.
Thus, on the one side, you currently have France, Italy, Spain, and another seven Eurozone nations backing a “European Recovery Bond.” However, more fiscal conservative nations including Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands are currently opposed to Italy’s idea. Therefore, it remains to be seen if a compromise can be reached during this very difficult period.
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