Home Coronavirus 'Risk Of Failure Is Real': Italy's PM Warns That The Coronavirus Pandemic Could Break The European Union
'Risk Of Failure Is Real': Italy's PM Warns That The Coronavirus Pandemic Could Break The European Union

'Risk Of Failure Is Real': Italy's PM Warns That The Coronavirus Pandemic Could Break The European Union

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Topline: Italy’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has warned that the European Union risks failing if leaders cannot work together to fight the coronavirus, as members of the world’s largest trading bloc squabble over the economic burden of the pandemic.

  • Italy has been ravaged by the coronavirus and has recorded more than 17,000 deaths related to COVID-19—the most of any country, while more than 100 medical workers have died after contracting the virus.
  • Conte called for a coordinated response across the world’s largest trading bloc, and told the BBC in an interview that EU leaders faced an “appointment with history they could not miss.”
  • Conte’s comments come as the bloc’s finance ministers are split over the issue of ‘corona bonds’, which would see debts shared among Eurozone countries. The idea was championed by hard-hit Italy, but has been opposed by wealthier nations such as Germany.
  • “If Europe fails to come up with a monetary and financial policy adequate for the biggest challenge since World War Two, not only Italians but European citizens will be deeply disappointed,” Conte said.
  • Italy has been a key member of the European Union but simmering frustration over the EU handling of its debt crisis has boiled over at lacklustre response to Italy’s plea for medical aid.

Crucial quote: “If we do not seize the opportunity to put new life into the European project, the risk of failure is real,” Conte told the BBC.

Key background: Italy was the first European nation to issue a nationwide coronavirus lockdown on March 9 after becoming the worst-hit country outside China. There are now signs that its infection rate and death toll are slowing, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Its response prompted similar actions across Europe as cases spread across the continent, with Spain, France and the U.K. following suit. While the EU issued a ban on travel into the bloc, it has been criticised by Italy, Hungary, Poland and even its scientific research chief for a lack of a coordinated strategy on how to fight the virus and its economic consequences.

Tangent: Russia has stepped into the breach to send medical teams and equipment to Italy in what appears to be efforts by Vladimir Putin to win favour with Italian authorities and leverage that to pressure the EU to lift sanctions. But Conte rejected this idea, telling the BBC: “The mere insinuation offends me deeply. It’s an offence to the Italian government… and also to Vladimir Putin, who would never dream of using this as leverage.”

Related‘Extremely Disappointed’: EU Science Chief Resigns In Stinging Criticism Of Coronavirus Response 

 

This article was written by Isabel Togoh from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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