The virus dynamite the ways in the EU

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The virus dynamite the ways in the EU

Antonio Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister. / EFE
Antonio Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister. 

The Portuguese Costa describes as “repugnant” the lack of solidarity of the Netherlands and its attempt to stigmatize Italy and Spain in this crisis

Even the shapes fall into a spin. Tension has skyrocketed within the European Union after the failure of the videocumbre that the heads of state and government held on Thursday. Six hours were thrown away, which have evidenced that tear between north and south, always latent but that had not manifested itself with such intensity since the financial crisis of a decade ago. The Portuguese prime minister, Antonio Costa, described the arrogant attitude of the Netherlands as “repugnant”, which seems determined to emphasize that the pandemic not only does not go with them but also shifts the blame to the countries that suffer it most implacably.

What Costa said was eloquent. “It is a disgusting speech within the EU. The appropriate expression is that: disgusting », he remarked. The specific recipient of those words was the Dutch Minister of Finance, Wopke Hoekstra, who according to the newspaper ‘De Volkskrant’, has asked the European Commission for a report on why some countries have accumulated financial reserves during the years of economic expansion (yours and Germany) while others (read Italy and Spain) have not. “A serious insult” that he planned on the Eurogroup meeting last Tuesday and that has evolved as a barrage of objections.

Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya responded to Hoekstra this Friday with a thread on her official Twitter account. ‘We are together on this EU ship. We hit an unexpected iceberg. We all share the same risk at this time. There is no time for discussions about alleged first and second class tickets. Do not behave so adequately in this Titanic; he comes to say. “History will hold us accountable for what we do now.”

Rusty messages who question facts. Quite an attitude. Because if the Netherlands and Germany made one thing clear on Thursday’s leaders’ telecast, it is that they are not willing to share risks. They don’t want coronabonds (the ‘exceptional’ version of Eurobonds) that nine euro countries are betting on. That they are not all in the south – France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and Slovenia have joined. Angela Merkel stated that for her country they are not “an option” (the eternal ‘neim’) and her Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, does not foresee “any circumstance” that would make them “change their minds” about this tool. Not now, not in two weeks.

Because that is the term that Spain and Italy managed to tie after planting so that the Eurogroup presents a proposal for a coordinated fiscal response to the gaps that the coronavirus will open in the European economies. Without coronabonos, there is the option of the ESM, the rescue fund, but as long as it does not stigmatize. Come on, let your criteria be relaxed, be supportive. The ‘rich’ did not want to go through that hoop either.

Those two weeks and a hypothetical north-south reunion have become the last hook to grab onto to prevent further deterioration of the EU. Not so much for their conventional institutions but for the attitude of the capitals, which are the ones that have the last word. The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, accused Berlin or The Hague of “myopia”, without mentioning them. “If the European market is not strengthened, then there will be no growth in any Member State,” he said. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, alerted him the day before by launching the question: “Will this virus definitively divide us between rich and poor?”

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