This Thursday the EU leaders meet again by videoconference. In principle, they are expected to give the go-ahead to what was agreed by their finance ministers in the last Eurogroup: a package of 540,000 million euros: 240,000 through the EU rescue mechanism; 100,000 in the SURE program to help ERTEs and another 200,000 with the EIB. All this adds to the 870,000 million mobilized by the ECB to prevent the countries’ risk premium from skyrocketing.
But the next step remains to be decided: the size and mechanism of the recovery fund.
Italy remains the strongest country in defense of Eurobonds, from mutual debt bonds to finance the reconstruction of the EU when the health crisis passes. In front, above all, are the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Finland.
In an interview published by the Süddeutsche ZeitungItalian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte expresses Italians’ distrust of the European Union: “It arises at the moment when we feel abandoned precisely by the countries that benefit from this Union.”
Conte thus recalls how Germany banned exports of medical equipment: respiratory masks, gloves and protective suits in a general way.
“Look at the example of the Netherlands, whose social dumping attracts thousands of multinationals, who move their headquarters there, and obtain a flow of tax revenue stolen from other partners in the European Union: 9,000 million euros each year, according to an analysis by Tax Justice Network “.
“The EU needs all its firepower” in its response to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus, Conte continues, “specifically through the issuance of Eurobonds.”
The Italian prime minister signals to the countries of the north to look more for their own interests than the collectives of the EU. Germany has “a higher trade balance than the EU rules”, Conte explains, and with this surplus it does not act as a locomotive but as a “brake for Europe”.
“It is indisputable: Italy was left alone,” replies the Italian prime minister. “Ursula von der Leyen also apologized for this on behalf of the European Union, in the European Parliament. I very much appreciated the gesture.”
Conte also addresses the controversy of mobilizing the European bailout fund, the ESM, the instrument used by the troika to lend money during the previous crisis in exchange for social cuts and economic sacrifices: “We have not forgotten that the Greeks, in the last financial crisis, they were asked unacceptable sacrifices to obtain the credits. “