The former Italian interior minister claimed EU loans will be a burden on Italy’s future generations and dismissed all EU’s proposals to solve the coronavirus crisis. Matteo Salvini, who leads the far-right party Lega, claimed Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte should issue treasury bonds to help Italian citizens recover from the economic crisis caused by COVID-19. Speaking to La7, he said: “Many people ask me ‘what would you do if you were still in charge?’, I would ask Italian people the money to let the country recover.
“I don’t believe in measures like the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which is still talked about in Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussels because it would be a debt imposed on our children.
“It would mean more equity and more precarious jobs.
“I would apply an extraordinary issue of treasury bonds for Italian citizens, entrepreneurs and investors, guaranteed by the Government and by the European Central Bank – as this is its role – so that the Italian debt to fix roads, build hospitals and new police stations will be in the hands of Italian citizens with advantageous tax conditions.
“I don’t trust loans coming from Europe, which will then mean – as we have seen in Greece for example -that airports, rails and even monuments will be sold to the highest bidder.”
The draft text, which was seen by Reuters, said the existing ESM precautionary credit lines could be “adjusted in light of this specific challenge” – the spread of the coronavirus – and that countries “requesting support would commit to use this credit line to support domestic financing of costs strictly related to the COVID 19 crisis.”
It went on to say: “Afterwards, euro area member states would strengthen economic and financial fundamentals, consistent with the EU economic and fiscal coordination and surveillance frameworks, including any flexibility applied by the competent EU institutions.”
Officials who took part in the meeting and diplomatic sources briefed on it said Italy was leaning to accept that wording on macroeconomic conditionality but the Dutch did not think it went far enough. In the end, both rejected the text.
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Diplomatic sources said France was also initially calling for a more specific reference to issuing joint debt, but then got on board with further, watered-down drafts in an effort to secure an EU compromise.
Germany and Spain were also in favour of such an agreement, but Austria, Sweden and Denmark sided with the Netherlands, the sources said.
Italy is among the worst-hit countries in the world by coronavirus.
At the time of writing, Italy counts 135,586 confirmed cases and 17,127 deaths.