French Economist: EU Risks ‘Suicide’, Could Collapse over Coronavirus

HEREFORD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: An EU flag flying outside a house is partially covered by the flooding of the River Wye following Storm Dennis on February 17, 2020 in Hereford, England. Storm Dennis is the second named storm to bring extreme weather in a week and follows in the …
Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

French economist Jean-Paul Fitoussi is the latest financial expert to sound the alarm that a lack of solidarity in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic could spell the end of the European Union (EU).

Professor Fitoussi said the EU must act to aid countries affected by coronavirus and create a Europe-wide investment plan. Otherwise, the bloc itself could face “a destiny of underdevelopment”, he warned.

In an interview with Italian news website Quotidiano that was released on Friday, he advised the EU to create “an investment plan in public goods, which are those from whose use, by definition, nobody can be excluded and which bring added value to all citizens”.

He went on to criticise the decision by several of the wealthier EU member-states to reject the so-called Eurobond proposal which would underwrite the debt of countries like Italy and Spain which have been hardest hit by the Wuhan virus.

In response to the rejection of Eurobonds, Fitoussi said: “It is a new disappointment, but I expected it. Europe never met when we needed it. And therefore, it was foreseeable that the Northern countries would say no to the mutualisation of debt. But without mutualising debt, today’s crisis is not resolved. And not doing it is collective suicide.”

“If there is no real solidarity, a real mutualisation of the debt, we will either continue to go even further underwater or do something politically incorrect but inevitable: say ‘enough’ and get out,” Fitoussi added.

The warning comes nearly two weeks after Belgian economist Professor Paul De Grauwe made a similar warning, saying that without solidarity, “the whole European project will disappear”.

“If I were Italian and if I saw that other countries are not willing to help Italy, I would question membership in the Union,” he said.

In Italy, populist League leader Senator Matteo Salvini has criticised the European Union’s response to the coronavirus. He said on Thursday: “I hope the pro-Europeans have understood that if Europe is hunger and death and sacrifice it is not the future that we must leave to our children.”

“Let’s take back our country into our hands without going cap in hand to anyone. Long live Italy and long live the Italians,” Salvini, a long-time eurosceptic, added.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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