Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the European Union proposal to mitigate the economic fallout of the Covid-19 outbreak was nowhere near enough, and that more was needed to help the country hardest-hit by the virus.
Conte’s office released a statement as the teleconference with EU leaders was still ongoing on Thursday, saying that Italy “does not accept” the proposed financial stimulus and that “innovative financial instruments” were needed.
He said he gave Brussels ten days to come up with a better solution, without elaborating what Italy might do if that does not happen.
Italy, Spain and France have led the call for the EU to issue joint debt instruments, but the idea was blocked by Germany, according to Reuters. Berlin was backed up by the ‘frugal’ club of EU members, mirroring the split that sank the bloc’s talks on a long-term budget last month.
Italy has almost caught up to China – where the virus originated in December – in the sheer number of Covid-19 cases, but has surged to first place in the world in the number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus, with the toll standing at 8,165 as of Thursday evening.
Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez supported the Italian deadline, Conte added. Spain has been hit almost as hard, with more than 56,000 cases and over 4,000 deaths.
Many Italians have been bitter about the lack of support from the EU, with former PM Franco Frattini telling RT this week that Italy was left to face the virus “practically alone.” Meanwhile, China, Russia and even Cuba have sent supplies and medical personnel to Italy, seeking to help the beleaguered healthcare system cope with the contagion.
Even as the epidemic continues to claim lives and stress medical resources, the lockdown measures ordered to slow the spread have taken a heavy toll on the country’s economy, already suffering due to rigid EU fiscal and monetary constraints.
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