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Despite 500 billion euros ready, EU left Italy to die

Christian Fernsby ▼ | March 19, 2020
The European Union’s self purported goals are to promote peace, its values and the well being of its citizens.
It claims to “offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders.” It declares a commitment to “enhance economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity among EU countries.”

Topics: Italy

Yet the EU has left Italy which has been a member since the EU’s inception in 1958 in the lurch from the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Madeleine Freeman writes for Left Voice.

Ignoring Italy’s pleas for help, it has done nothing but exacerbate the escalation of Italy’s economic and public health crisis.

Its lack of response has shown each one of these stated principles to be exactly what they are: not merely empty promises, but bold faced lies.

Far from a democratic organization of peace and cooperation, the EU is a federation controlled by Europe’s major powers whose only concern is protecting capitalist profits as the world’s markets falter.

Italy was the first country in Europe to go on complete lockdown as a result of the severity of the coronavirus outbreak.

Like many of the countries hit hardest by the crisis, after decades of austerity measures and cuts to social programs, Italy’s government and universal healthcare system were unprepared to stem the spread of the virus or care for the infected.

Without enough staff, beds, or medical equipment to treat patients, doctors are being forced to prioritize care, not for those with the worst symptoms, but those with the highest chances of recovery.

Meanwhile, Italy’s economy, which was already weak when the crisis hit, was paralyzed as global markets crashed, production halted, and the country was forced to divert extra resources towards fighting the epidemic.

Last month, when the coronavirus epidemic began to reach a critical point in Italy, with cases of infection rising rapidly and the Italian economy at a near standstill, Italy called on the EU to send medical aid and supplies.

The EU and every member country ignored the call completely.

In fact, several countries, including Germany, even stopped exports of vital medical supplies, such as masks, from going to Italy.

The rest of Europe cut off all transportation to and from Italy a vain attempt to prevent the outbreak from spreading.

Rather than work with Italy to contain the virus and get care to those affected, the EU reinforced the borders it is so fond of saying do not exist between member countries.

Though the EU is first and foremost an economic institution, one that is responsible for regulating the Euro, it also alleges to be a political alliance of 27 countries that will work together in times of crisis.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is a division of the EU specifically designed to help countries overwhelmed by disasters and supposedly allows them to receive both aid from member countries and the EU’s help in planning a response to the crisis.

It has funds of nearly €500 billion for these purposes.

But when Italy asked for this aid, it received little more than silence from its supposed allies.

The EU has instead focused on Italy’s economy and its potential effects on the EU’s market prospects.

Italy’s economy was already weak when the crisis hit.

It has high levels of government debt one of the highest in the world and high unemployment, making it one of the most precarious economies in the EU.

Decades of austerity measures by the Italian government under pressure from the EU left it unequipped with the necessary resources to combat the crisis and put responsibility for the response on the backs of the millions of working class people who are forced to stay at home without sufficient time off, who have been laid off, or who are still being forced to work and risk exposure to the virus.

These dual phenomena show that when it comes down to it, the EU is not an organization of international cooperation but simply an apparatus by which to easily move capital and leverage government debt.

And in this tension, we can see clearly that capitalism is not equipped to handle the present crisis.