Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte calls for a more ambitious EU stimulus package to avoid nationalism and divisions between member countries. In a guest post on the Politico website, Conte welcomed the 500 billion euro program proposed by France and Germany as “a courageous and important step”, but “much more needs to be done”.
“The amount of funds that will be collected through all European instruments, including this reconstruction fund, is lagging behind the estimates of this,” said Conte in the post, “which many public and private institutions believe will be needed to keep the economy going To preserve life. “
The corona pandemic is a “symmetrical shock that affects all countries and regions and that cannot be dealt with effectively by individual states,” wrote Conte. “If we allow the corona crisis to increase economic and social disparities in the EU, we will ignite the flames of nationalism and widen the long-term divisions in our Union,” it said.
The Italian head of government emphasized that Europe cannot afford to repeat past mistakes “by doing too little or reacting too slowly”. If the action is taken too late, the Union risks a “sharp widening of the divergences between the EU member states”. Conte criticized that some countries would “exert pressure to demand a business-as-usual EU budget and a modest bailout fund with a negligible amount of grants.” Such an attitude shows that they have not recognized the seriousness of the situation, said Conte.
Dispute over the implementation of the billion-dollar fund
Germany and France proposed a € 500 billion “economic recovery fund” earlier this week to tackle the severe recession in the EU caused by the corona pandemic. Unlike previous measures, this is not about loans, but grants from the EU budget for the most affected countries that do not have to be repaid. The EU Commission is to borrow common debt to finance it.
The volume, financing and payment arrangements of the fund are controversial. Some of the EU countries, including Austria, have so far refused to allow the EU Commission to incur debts, which are then passed on to affected countries as non-repayable grants. Countries such as France, Italy and Spain, on the other hand, insist on such transfer payments in order not to further increase their already large indebtedness.
The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden now want to present an alternative to the Franco-German EU aid plan, according to Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and French President Emmanuel Macron “made an important contribution to the discussion,” said Rutte. However, the four EU countries want to present a plan that requires countries that benefit from EU aid to make more binding reform commitments.