Although Italy is experiencing one of the most difficult moments after the Second World War, our nation has been left alone by the European Union despite the Coronavirus emergency being a global emergency and not just an Italian problem. The behaviour of the European Union has been a great disappointment for Italy as the EU has not been able to give a timely and effective response to Italian requests for support.
What is the point of the European Union if, in this moment of need, it does not help a nation like Italy – one of the founders of the EU? The European Union should be doing more from an economic point of view by helping the Italian state (and consequently Italian citizens). We cannot and must not forget that every year Italy pays billions of euros into the European budget, if solidarity is not demonstrated or supplied at this stage of the crisis, there is no reason for Italy to remain a member of the European Union.
In addition to the dramatic health consequences, the effects of the Coronavirus on the Italian economy are serious now but will be even more serious in the medium term. Let’s not forget that Italy is the eighth most industrialized nation in the world. Therefore, our economy is based on a good industrial sector with a strong manufacturing core and on the tertiary sector, including our highly developed tourist sector. However, this is now a large problem for Italy as following the government’s new decree, all businesses that are non-essential – non-utilities – must be closed. Additionally, the Italian economy is reliant on exports and this crisis has had an impact on the whole European economy.
One specific indication of the problematic approach taken by the EU was the recent speech from the President of the ECB, Christine Lagarde. The speech was so disconcerting it caused a collapse of the Milan stock exchange and removed billions of euros from the markets. The truth is that the European Union and the ECB only intervened when the virus reached France and Germany with no concern for any other European nation. I echo the calls of the leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, for Lagarde to resign as she has proved herself unsuitable for the role she plays.
The knock-on effects for the economy security of the European Union will be serious. In addition to Italy – which represents the third largest economy in the EU after France and Germany now that the United Kingdom has left – the Coronavirus is rapidly spreading to the rest of Europe, which means that many other nations will soon find themselves in a similar situation to ours with all the economic consequences. We live in a globalized world where the effects of an economic crisis are likely to have a domino effect and echo across the globe. The risk of a new major financial crisis on a similar scale to that of 2008 is a concrete possibility with all the problems that entails.
We must also consider that even before the Covid-19 emergency the eurozone economy had a very low growth rate and now we will go into recession. When this emergency is over for Italy, and all European countries, it will be necessary to have a serious reflection on how the EU functions since the only real help for Europeans has come from individual nations rather than the supranational body that has tried to claim responsibility for all Europeans.