EU Commission President offers “heartfelt apology to Italy”, promises strong change in behaviour

epa08338339 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen holds a news conference detailing EU efforts to limit economic impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium, 02 April 2020. EPA-EFE/FRANCOIS LENOIR / POOL

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Ursula Von der Leyen, President of the European Commission has offered a heartfelt apology to Italy, admitting in Parliament that “many countries were not there in the hour of need”.

The Commission President was speaking at a debate in the European Parliament on Thursday, admitting: “it is true that many countries were absent when Italy first needed help. And it is true, that the European Union must offer its most heartfelt apologies to Italy. But “sorry” means something only if it is reflected by a change in behaviour. Yes, it took some time for everyone to understand that we need to protect each other. But the EU has emerged as the heart of solidarity, we are here to support those who are most in need”.

She referred to joint efforts made by EU institutions and member states to distribute medical equipment, offer hospital beds as well as getting agreements on financing the recovery.

Despite this invaluable assistance, what Italy and other debt-laden Mediterranean really need is financial assistance. In this context, politicians across the political spectrum called for a significant financial outlay to overcome the economic fallout. Next week, the European Council is expected to push through an ambitious European budget, but Parliament is insisting that EU countries reconsider the now famous corona bonds, which in euro-terminology have now been labelled as ‘recovery bonds’.

French President Emmanuel Macron echoed these sentiments, warning Brussels that should the EU not come out strongly to support European economies, the “political project” is destined to fail. He appealed again for the creation of a fund which issues debt instruments with a common guarantee to finance Member States according to their needs.

Read more via Euronews / La Stampa

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