As of: 6:19 p.m. | Reading time: 2 minutes
Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte phoned Chancellor Angela Merkel
Quelle: Getty Images / Michele Tantussi
An interview with Chancellor Angela Merkel about EU funding in the Corona crisis has caused a stir in Italy. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is now commenting on the Chancellor’s statements for the first time. With a clear message.
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ADuring an interview with Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), the Italian head of government Giuseppe Conte (non-partisan) made it clear that he does not want Germany to dictate anything in the current economic crisis. “I’m the one who keeps the books,” said Conte on Saturday.
Merkel had in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (“SZ”) urged that Italy should use all aid instruments provided by the EU, including the European Stability Mechanism (ESM).
Nothing has changed in Merkel’s views, Conte said at a press conference. But he and his economics minister still kept the books. Italy is preparing a recovery plan to be presented in September, Conte continued.
Merkel had told the “SZ” that the EU had not set up instruments such as the ESM “so that they remain unused”. However, the decision lies with Italy.
In Italy, the debate over the possible use of the ESM divides the government coalition. The five-star movement speaks out against it, while the coalition partner, the Democratic Party, is in favor of it.
Each country in the monetary union can access low-interest loans amounting to two percent of its economic output through the ESM. However, countries like Italy fear that a request for help on the financial markets will be interpreted as a signal of massive financial difficulties and could lead speculators to the scene. So far, no euro government has shown any interest in ESM aid in the crisis.
The EU countries are currently negotiating a multi-billion dollar corona relief plan, which is primarily intended to support Italy and Spain, which have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. However, the EU Commission’s proposal for the massive reconstruction fund is highly controversial among the member states, partly because the aid is to flow partly as grants and not as loans.
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