European Union Will ‘Cease to Exist’ Over Coronavirus Response Failure, Warn Italian Politicians

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - MARCH 02: "The Future is Europe" by Belgian artist NovaDead is seen near to the European Parliament on March 02, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. The UK chief negotiator David Frost has met his EU counterpart Michel Barnier to begin formal negotiations of the future relationship between the …
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A group of Italian politicians have warned that the European Union will “cease to exist” if countries in the bloc refuse to increase funding to the nations hardest hit by the Chinese coronavirus.

On Tuesday, mayors and other politicians from Italy took out a full-page advertisement in a German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, criticising the Netherlands and Germany for refusing to back so-called “coronabonds” to underwrite the debt accumulated by Italy and other coronavirus epicentre countries in the European Union.

“Dear German friends, with the coronavirus the shared history of the Western world has once again taken centre stage,” the Italian politicians wrote.

“Today the EU does not have the means to respond to the crisis in a united front. If it does not prove that it exists, it will cease to exist,” they warned.

The politicians, led by Italian MEP Carlo Calenda, drew a comparison to the aftermath of the Second World War when Italy along with other European powers agreed to partially dissolve debt accrued by Germany, which they claim the country could “never have paid” back.

The Italians also drew aim at the Netherlands, whom they accuse lacking “ethics and solidarity” for blocking emergency coronavirus funding, despite “using its tax system to withdraw tax revenue from major European countries for years”.

The message of the letter drew support from the leader of the Dutch Christian Union (CU) party, Gert-Jan Segers, who called for a Marshal Plan style of approach in dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

“[Italy] is in ruins. The first message, in my opinion, would be: we are going to help you,” Segers said per the NL Times.

The European Union has been split on the issue of emergency funding and the idea of coronabonds, with France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium calling for the bloc to adopt the funding mechanism to help raise money for the countries facing the worst outbreaks of the coronavirus.

The coronabond scheme has so far been blocked by Germany, Finland, Austria, and the Netherlands, which view it as punishing countries who were better prepared for the pandemic with the debt of less prepared countries, The Telegraph reports.

The Europhilic ex-Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta joined the other Italian politicians in warning that divisions over emergency funding present a “mortal danger” to the future of the bloc.

“It is sad to say, but the countries that hold back on aid, such as Holland, Germany, and Sweden, are still open because they have not seen the parades of coffins,” Enrico told Corriere della Sera.

“When you’re on the Titanic there is no first or third class cabin, it all sinks together,” he warned.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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