The European Union has failed on an incredible scale when faced with a true crisis, writes Gianluca de Feo, deputy editor in chief of Italy’s centre-left daily La Repubblica, in an explosive French-language piece published in Le Figaro about Brussels’ passivity in the face of a rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic.
“We are still alone, the European Union hasn’t lent us any support. We didn’t receive any medicines or face masks nor have any mobile hospitals been deployed,” de Feo writes. “Italy has asked for face masks, rubber gloves and plastic eye protectors from Europe in order to have the most basic things needed for the fight against the coronavirus. But our plea has remained unanswered. France and Germany have even banned the export of these medical supplies, sending us a very worrying signal.”
In the scathing article, de Feo writes that Europe’s institutions in Brussels have kept themselves constantly busy with a plethora of inconsequential issues, but now when true European unity is at stake, these same institutions retreat from those countries that need the EU’s help the most.
He further writes that while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen sympathetically said that “we are all Italians”, these words amount to nothing when Italy is locked in a desperate battle with a mortal disease, which de Feo refers to as a “ruthless killer”.
In the past four weeks alone the pandemic has claimed more than 2,000 casualties in the country, the number of those infected rose by tens of thousands and all the while the fabric of the Italian economy keeps disintegrating.
“We have taken measures unprecedented in Western history, the likes of which haven’t been seen even between the two world wars,” de Feo wrote. “How is it possible that with all its colossal administrative and technical apparatus the European Union did not give any warning about the virus? Why didn’t it coordinate defensive measures?”
He said that while these questions remain unanswered for now, a reply from Brussels must eventually must be forthcoming.
He added that the most momentous drama in the history of the European Union has demonstrated that for the “supranational experts” in Brussels these are ultimately other people’s problems. European unity disintegrated and the EU failed to intervene in a manner that could have alleviated Italy’s suffering and tremendous death toll.
Title image: A patient in a bio-containment unit is carried on a stretcher from an ambulance arrived at the Columbus Covid 2 Hospital in Rome, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness, especially in older adults and people with existing health problems. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)