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Italian PM: EU could fail over coronavirus pandemic

The EU is at risk of failure because of the Covid-19 crisis, Giuseppe Conte has said.

Giuseppe Conte spoke to Italians earlier this month, announcing that restrictions would continue until at least 13 April.
Giuseppe Conte spoke to Italians earlier this month, announcing that restrictions would continue until at least 13 April.
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS is a challenge to “the existence of Europe”, Italy’s prime minister has said – and warned that the EU could fail as a result of the pandemic.

In an interview with the BBC, Giuseppe Conte said that “if we don’t seize the opportunity to put new life into the European project, the risk is real”.

“That’s why I won’t allow it to materialise, I want to banish it,” Conte said. “If our response isn’t strong and unified, if Europe fails to come up with a monetary, financial policy adequate for the biggest challenge since the Second World War, not only Italians but European citizens will be deeply disappointed.”

Alongside Spain, Italy has been badly impacted by Covid-19 and over 17,000 people have died from the virus in the country. However, there have been signs of hope with deaths, hospital stays and new infections levelling off. 

The EU is still in the process of putting together a financial package to support states through the crisis – however so far states are divided over what exactly that package will look like. 

Italy and Spain, backed by France, want to throw all the EU’s economic might into fighting the virus and damage from the disruption it has caused as soon as possible. Italy has rejected using the bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).

Instead Italy, backed by France, Spain and six other countries, have pushed to go even further than using the ESM and rely on a shared bond issue backed by all countries to raise money at low interest rates and favourable conditions such as long repayment.

“I feel pain for the gaping wound that Italians are enduring,” Conte said in the interview.

“It’s a pain that is always with me because they’re astonishing numbers. But behind the numbers are names and surnames, life stories, stories of broken families and this causes me deep sadness.”

“The Italian nation is suffering.”

With reporting from Press Association 

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