Giuseppe Conte: “If we do not seize the opportunity to put new life into the European project, the risk of failure is real,”

As criticism mounts over the failure of the European Union to adequately address the coronavirus crisis, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warns that the continued future of the bloc itself may be at stake.

This follows the resignation earlier this week of Professor Mauro Ferrari, head of the European Research Council (ERC), who, frustrated at the inertia he experienced within the European Commission stated “I have seen enough of both the governance of science, and the political operations at the European Union... I have lost faith in the system itself. I arrived at the ERC a fervent supporter of the EU, the Covid-19 crisis completely changed my views".

We need an economic and social response at the European level, If Europe fails to come up with a monetary and financial policy adequate for the biggest challenge since World War Two, not only Italians but European citizens will be deeply disappointed. If we do not seize the opportunity to put new life into the European project, the risk of failure is real.

Giuseppe Conte

The crisis has seen the restoration of national borders as individual member states seek to protect their populace, a move that undermines the Schengen Agreement which guarantees freedom of movement within the EU.

Whilst EU member states have received prompt and meaningful aid from elsewhere - Uzbekistan was the first country to deliver aid to Hungary and other virus hotspots have controversially received aid from China and Russia - the European Commission has done little more than to moot a vague plan to set up a stockpile of emergency equipment in an as yet un-named member state.

This situation is unravelling against a background of failure of member state finance ministers to agree on the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027, without which EU budgets cannot be set, and Brexit, which has significant budgetary implications for the bloc.

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