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EU meltdown: Pope says future of Europe at stake over coronavirus aid tensions

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EU meltdown: Pope says future of Europe at stake over coronavirus aid tensions

In his Urbi et Orbi blessing delivered to St. Peter's Basilica on Easter Sunday, the head of the Catholic Church urged political leaders to put aside "past rivalries" and unite in a "spirit of solidarity". However, Europe's fault lines and divisions were vividly displayed during the negotiations on the financial rescue package for member states. Last week me finance ministers finally agreed to a £ 430 billion rescue package for European countries affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The agreed package is much smaller than that required by the European Central Bank (ECB) to help countries deal with the economic consequences of the devastating health crisis.

The ECB argued that countries would need the £ 1.3 trillion region to help them get through the financial chaos caused by the storm COVID-19.

However, EU ministers did not accept a demand from France and Italy to share the costs of the crisis by issuing so-called coronabonds.

This would make it much easier for countries with large debts, such as Italy and Spain, to increase credit at affordable rates.

But the idea was strongly resisted by both the Netherlands and Germany, which suspect Italy is using the crisis in Lombardy to rename the rejected concept of eurobonds, in which the north finances the debts of the sinking south.

In his speech, the pontiff said that the "selfishness of private interests" posed a threat to "the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations".

Pope Francis explained: “Among the many areas of the world affected by the coronavirus, I think in a special way of Europe.

"After the Second World War, this beloved continent was able to rise again, thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity that allowed it to overcome the rivalries of the past.

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Pope Francis' call for unity fell on deaf ears, while Italy and the Netherlands continued to argue over the terms of the new bailout.

While Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte said the deal was just the first step and that he would "fight to the end" for the titles, the Dutch finance minister reiterated his opposition to the idea.

Wopke Hoekstra said: “We are and will remain against Eurobonds.

"We believe that this concept will not help Europe or the Netherlands in the long run."

The Dutch position produced a devastating attack by a former Italian prime minister, who accused the Dutch of helping to destroy the European Union.

Enrico Letta told the Dutch press that the Italian view of Holland was seriously undermined.

He said: “It didn't help that the day after the German customs authorities stopped a huge amount of masks at the border, Russian trucks carrying relief supplies drove through the streets of Rome and millions of masks were shipped from China.

"Matteo Salvini is waiting for this type of action from the Netherlands and Germany so that he can say: look, we are of no use to the European Union."

Nicole Gnesotto said: “The EU's lack of preparation, its impotence and timidity are impressive.

"It is clear that health is not part of its competence, but it still has means or responsibilities."


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