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The coronavirus pandemic has ripped off the EU’s mask of unity and poses an existential threat to the European Project. Faced with the emergency, the EU’s member states have turned on each other and reopened the crudely sutured wounds of the financial crisis.
Then, as today, northern eurozone nations are being asked to bail out poorer southern nations, who bridle from the north lectures on fiscal housekeeping. The infighting was brutal enough to convince Jacques Delors, the former European Commission president and architect of the euro, to intervene. The 94-year-old made a rare public warning that the absence of solidarity in the surface of the virus introduced a “mortal danger” to the EU.
The EU’s initial reaction to the catastrophe that has proved more divisive than Brexit was poor. Italy utilized the EU’s civil protection mechanism to put out an urgent call for face masks. No EU country volunteered to assist before China stepped in with aid. Border controls were reintroduced from the bloc’s passport-free Schengen Zone. Nonetheless, it’s the matter of “coronabonds” that’s laid bare the mutual distrust between EU countries.
It would be ensured by all member states, to help the economy recover. Germany and the Netherlands have no desire to underwrite debt to fund spending in different countries. Berlin, the EU’s largest economy and largest beneficiary of the euro, resisted common eurozone debt issuance in the elevation of the 2008 catastrophe that nearly spelt the end of their single currency. Italy, the EU nation worst hit by the virus, was supported by eight different member states, including France and Spain, during a teleconference summit of EU leaders last week. “I can’t foresee any circumstance under which we’ll alter our position,” Mr Rutte said. The five-hour “E-Summit” ended with the issue being kicked back into EU finance ministers, who should now try and find a compromise following Tuesday.
Wopke Hoekstra, the Dutch finance minister, had required an investigation into why some nations had not saved up enough money to weather the crisis. “That announcement is repugnant in the framework of the European Union,” Antonio Costa, the prime minister of Portugal, said. “No one has any more time to hear Dutch finance ministers as we heard in 2008, 2009, 2010 and so on.”Jeroen Dijsselbloem, a former Dutch finance minister and ex-head of the Eurogroup, faced calls to step from 2017 later telling a German newspaper that financial crisis-stricken southern nations had squandered their money on “drinks and girls”. “Either the EU does what it needs to be done or it will finish,” the centre-left Mr.
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Costa added. Pedro Sanchez, Spain’s socialist leader, cautioned that Brussels must respond faster than it did in bailing out Spanish banks or risk losing aid in his ardently pro-EU nation. Hostilities haven’t ceased, with Italian politicians carrying out a full-page advertisement in the influential German paper, urging the country to”Following the tumult. The authoritarian Viktor Orban secured sweeping new powers to rule by decree to fight the virus, leading to accusations that the EU had a primary dictatorship one of its member states. With health policy largely a federal responsibility, the European Commission has a coordination and facilitation role that EU diplomats describe as “not to get in the way” of their member states. The executive has rested its tight fiscal rules for the national budget and state aid legislation to give governments more flexibility in the fight against the financial effects of the epidemic. But the commission has also made things worse in its struggle to appear more relevant.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission and a former minister at Angela Merkel’s government, appeared to discount coronabonds as a “slogan” in a German interview just two days after the failed summit. Faced with Italian fury, the commission spin machine insisted that nothing has been taken off the table. Mrs von der Leyen dispatched Paolo Gentiloni, the former Italian prime minister and EU commissioner for its economy, to Italy.
His intervention, that will do little to allay suspicions that Mrs von der Leyen is not a true European pioneer but a puppet of those member states, told the real story. Mr Gentiloni explained that mutualized debt will not be agreed. Calling for consensus, he stated that undermine with Germany was critical or “the European project is in danger of dying”.The Dutch and the Germans will attempt to manoeuvre the compromise towards existing debt tools created after the financial crisis, which come with stringent rules and requirements.
Mrs von der Leyen’s big idea is to use the coronavirus catastrophe to reinvigorate stalled intergovernmental talks over the next EU Budget. She asserts that particular governments, such as Germany and the Netherlands, should shed their resistance to being asked to pay more to Brussels to help the economy recover from the pandemic.
It is a particularly common cause to rally behind at a time when more than 10,000 EU citizens have died from the virus in Italy. Brussels prides itself on using any crisis to push forward the cause of greater European integration.So far, the EU has only succeeded in exacerbating its divisions.