EU Commission Boss Issues Another Coronavirus Apology as Bloc Cracks

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KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has issued another apology to Italy over the European Union’s lack of solidarity during the Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

Mrs von der Leyen stated in the European Parliament this week that she wanted to extend a “heartfelt apology” and said: “Too many were not there on time when Italy needed a helping hand at the very beginning.”

The apology comes just weeks after she had another apology published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica entitled “I apologise, we are with you.”

The EU leader then claimed that “Europe has now become the world’s beating heart of solidarity”, noting that EU countries had offered each other hospital beds and medical supplies.

Von der Leyen also pushed the idea of a coronavirus “Marshall Plan” to deal with the economic fallout of the Chinese virus, saying: “We need massive investments to restart the economy, a European Marshall Plan. And it must be activated immediately.”

One of the measures proposed to help Italy has been the use of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), a bailout fund that gives loans to member-states.

The ESM has seen massive resistance within Italy from Senator Matteo Salvini, however, who has criticised the measure as eroding the sovereignty of Italy and having adverse effects if it results in the country being forced to restructure debt.

Members of the Five Star Movement (M5S), who form the current governing coalition with the leftist Democrats (PD), have gone as far as saying they will vote to bring down Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s government if the ESM is used.

This week, Senator Salvini argued that the Italian parliament should vote on whether or not to approve the use of the ESM before Prime Minister Conte meets with EU leaders, saying that any politician who meets with the EU without parliamentary approval was acting as an outlaw.

The Italian public’s view and confidence in the European Union have sharply declined since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, with a recent poll showing that nearly half of Italians now believe their country would be better off out of the political bloc.

Mrs von der Leyen has also come under fire from one of the EU’s most ardent supporters over her coronavirus response.

Belgian MEP and noted europhile Guy Verhofstadt slammed President von der Leyen in the European Parliament on Thursday, saying: “It’s been weeks that we have been discussing this European Marshall Plan. My question is: what is the European Commission waiting for?”

“Is she waiting for the European Council? Well, she might have to wait eight years then,” he said went on to add: “My message to the European Commission is: this has to stop. You have the right of initiative. Take your responsibility and come forward!”

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

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