Italy is in a really sticky spot to put it mildly. With the oldest population in Europe, a tight-knit family-first culture and a popular tourist destination, COVID-19 has been ripping through the country, so far claiming the lives of over 15,000 Italians.
Europe is the new world epicentre of Coronavirus with Spain falling down a similar path. Overrun healthcare systems and and extensive lockdown measures, with the exception of Sweden and the Netherlands, have gripped the continent with the economy grinding to a standstill.
Hopping across the pond to the USA where a recently revamped testing plan has revealed the full extent of the problem, they are in a similar position. The federal government has dropped the biggest ‘stimulus package’ on record – well over $2 trillion dollars to help its people.
The USA is very similar to the EU. The USA lets it’s member states have a good level of autonomy – like the EU. The USA has a federal government that acts like the European Commission. Churchill himself even said that the goal European Union was to be a ‘kind of United States of Europe’.
So what are the citizens of the EU getting from the ‘unelected bureaucrats in Brussels’? The answer is not a lot. If there was ever going to be a time to prove to the member states how useful the European Union is, now would be the time. Instead, they offer up a flimsy plan to procure ventilators and distribute them how they see ‘fair’ . They also have supposedly injected their own 37 billion stimulus to small businesses which is a drop in the water compared to the UK’s and Germany’s £350 billion pound/euro plans.
They’ve also been busy viciously fining Italy 7 million pounds for failing to reclaim aid it gave to the Sardinian hotel sector in a of utter crisis. This came just days after the President of the EU Commission gave a speech claiming to be standing in solidarity with the people of Italy. This has really riled up the Italians. Recent polling data saw upwards of 80% of Italians don’t trust the EU for support and nearly 70% maintain that being an EU member has been a disadvantage.
Social media footage circulating sees swathes of Italians burning and desecrating EU flags as they claim they haven’t done anything to support the country in crisis – giving rise to the populist-right calling for ‘Italexit’. All of this comes after a history of financial invasiveness by the EU as they’ve rejected Italy’s budget plans on a number of occasions.
So by comparison, the institution who aims to federally govern us one day as one nation, has done minimal to help the Coronavirus crisis. Not only that, but it is also hasn’t even been seen to be doing anything. The ‘together we are stronger’ narrative, that federalists would have you believe, has been been proved to be fundamentally not true. Their crass historical treatment of nations like Italy and Greece show they’re an entity with the sole purpose of maintaining power and don’t care if its member states are dying.
Believers of the EU should be concerned here. Where we could survive a number of nations dropping out, having the UK and Italy leave in such quick succession would almost surely be the final nail in the coffin for the troubled institution. Considering they have been fundamentally useless, would countries be better off without the governing body providing more red-tape. Time will tell for the future of the EU as we know it.