Eurozone crisis: Covid fund row to pit Italy and Greece against ‘austere’ EU countries

EU: Expert says people will blame ‘austere’ countries over debt

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The hard-up populations of Greece and Italy could find themselves at odds with other Eurozone members over the European Union’s £652billion coronavirus recovery fund. The huge support package was only agreed last year following one of the bloc’s most acrimonious summits in decades. However, European political expert Grant Amyot has warned people will turn on Brussels’ if the unprecedented bailout fails to come to the rescue of pandemic-stricken industries and regions.

The Professor of Political Science at Queen’s University in Ontario told that the EU has learnt from the era of austerity which marked the bloc’s response to the 2008 financial crisis.

However the academic believed the EU’s response to the coronavirus recession could result in similar animosity and disagreements across the bloc.

He told “[The EU] at least learnt enough that they are not going to do [austerity] this time in any really harsh way.

“The fact that the austerity measures were totally counterproductive and just sank these countries further into recession.

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“Without solving their debt problems at all as sunken in even with the most orthodox of German economists. Who was pushing for the hardline austerity measures.”

Instead, Professor Amyot believes the latest Eurozone crisis will play out differently from the last.

He told “The measures won’t be effective enough, they won’t be strong enough.

“People will blame the EU.” 

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He continued: “They can rightly blame the austere countries in the EU like the Netherlands who have been a break on a bigger package.

“Originally they asked for a trillion euros, the southern countries and it had to be scaled back.”

Top eurocrats hope to start borrowing cash for the recovery package in June, but can only move once all member states have ratified the required legislation.

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But the plan could be hit by delays because 10 countries have still not ratified the required legislation.

Germany, Estonia, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Finland, Romania, Ireland, Lithuania and the Netherlands have still not completed the process.

EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn warned: “Our structures will be ready by June and theoretically we could start borrowing then, but it depends on how quickly member states complete the ratification process.”

He added: “We have no time to lose.”

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