EU economy commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has described the future of the political entity as being in jeopardy and in danger of “dying out”. France’s Emmanuel Macron must be an increase in the budget or a mechanism to assume common debt, but Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, is opposed to the idea. EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni has warned that disagreements between member states over the bloc’s economic measures aimed at addressing the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak may see a break-up of the union of states.
Mr Gentiloni speaking to Radio Capital said: “The European project is in danger of dying out.
“It is clear that if the economic differences between European countries, rather than shrinking in the face of a crisis like this, instead increase, it will be very difficult to keep the European project together.”
The 65-year-old feared that a compromise of raising the budget without German agreement was impossible.
The development comes after Berlin and other northern EU states rejected a proposal for a so-called “corona bonds scheme”.
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The scheme was tabled by nine countries, including Italy, Spain, and France.
Under the proposal, the European Union would create a joint borrowing system that would help countries cope with the damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Leader of the nine countries that tabled the scheme wrote a letter that stated: “The case for such a common instrument is strong.
“We are all facing asymmetric external shock, for which no country bears responsibility, but whose negative consequences are endured by all.
“And we are collectively accountable for an effective and United European response.”
Germany and other north European states said no to the proposed system and instead recommended using the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
The ESM is a bailout fund that was established following the 2008 economic crisis.
This proposal angered southern EU members, which associate the ESM with the austerity conditions that were previously imposed on debt-stricken countries such as Greece and Portugal.
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Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was outraged at the proposal to use the ESM.
He said: “If Europe does not rise to this unprecedented challenge, there is a danger that the European house loses its foundation before the eyes of our citizens.”
European president Ursula von der Leyen said that Italy, which has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus pandemic with almost 100,000 confirmed cases, is in crisis through no fault of its own.
She stressed that medium-sized businesses in the north of the country “need to be saved”.
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