Political fragmentation is intensifying in Italy as the coronavirus outbreak is giving new ammunition to anti-establishment parties and is challenging its European membership. Italy has the highest death toll from the Covid-19 outbreak in Europe and has desperately lobbied its partners, alongside Spain and France, to issue so-called “corona bonds” – sharing debt that all EU nations would help to pay off. However, the Netherlands and Germany in particular, are opposed to the idea as they see it as potentially putting their taxpayers on the hook for the debt of other countries.
That has incensed many Italians.
The economic fallout forecast for the country is mind-boggling.
The International Monetary Fund expects Italy’s economy to shrink by 9.1 percent in 2020 — the worst peacetime decline in nearly a century.
Italy also felt abandoned at the start of the crisis, with European countries reluctant to share much-needed medical supplies, for which the EU Commission president offered a “heartfelt apology” last week.
A Tecne poll from April 9 and 10 found the share of Italians that would vote to leave the EU in a referendum was up by 20 percentage points to 49 percent, compared to a previous poll from the end of 2018.
As many wonder whether an Italexit could indeed happen after the crisis, independent economist Shaun Richards has warned that without Rome, the eurozone will most definitely collapse.
He told Express.co.uk: “The eurozone has survived so far, but in the past decade, it has got weaker.
“Particularly after Brexit.
“EU chiefs must be extremely concerned about the way Italy is going right now.
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“They must be constantly asking themselves ‘will it leave or will it stay?’
“Because if it does go, it might break the monetary union.”
Italian MEP Antonio Maria Rinaldi echoed Mr Richards’ comments in another recent interview with Express.co.uk.
He said: “If Italy were to leave, the EU and the eurozone would immediately collapse.
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“No question. It would happen immediately afterwards.
“People should remember that Italy is second only to Germany when it comes to manufacturing.
“And the EU should start listening to us and responding adequately to this crisis.
“Right now, there is no leadership in Brussels.”
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