Great Britain

End of the EU? Growing fury at 'repugnant' response as Italy condemns Brussels as 'dead'

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked an unprecedented crisis throughout the European Union, with a huge rift erupting between the 27 member-states. This week's failure to agree a joint EU economic response to the crisis has already set off a wave of furious criticism from leaders in Italy, Portugal and Spain. On Thursday, Germany, the Netherlands and other northern European countries rejected the plea of nine EU countries for so-called "corona-bonds" to soften the economic impact of the pandemic. 

France24 revealed that angry exchanges between EU leaders took place during the six-hour video conference call, with "intense disagreements" sparking a furious row. 

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told other EU leaders that the "European project" is at stake, while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte questioned whether the EU was "truly adapted to a war".

The French broadcaster claimed that even German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted the arguments threatened the stability of Europe. 

The summit ended with a declaration giving eurozone finance ministers two weeks to come up with a solution.

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European Union

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked an unprecedented crisis throughout the European Union (Image: GETTY)

Italian

Italian newspaper headlines condemned the EU response, describing Brussels as "dead" and "ugly" (Image: GETTY)

Countries such as Italy and Spain, who are the hardest hit frrom coronavirus, see the "corona-bonds" debate as a "test of the EU's commitment to them". 

Following the heated exchanges, Italian newspaper headlines condemned the EU response, describing Brussels as "dead" and "ugly".

Former Italian Prime Minister and main opposition leader Matteo Salvini said Italy should consider leaving the European Union once the country wins its fight against the outbreak.

On Friday he tweeted: “First let's beat the virus, then think about Europe again. And, if necessary, say goodbye. Without even thanking it."

Salvini

Salvini said Italy should consider leaving the European Union once the country wins its fight against the outbreak (Image: GETTY)

He said that two weeks of more debate would take place "while people die," before comparing the EU to a "den of snakes and jackals". 

Italian Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli also condemned the lack of unity: "They want us to get into debt so they can punish us."

Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa picked out the Dutch as the main hurdle, describing their rejection of the proposal as "repugnant".

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European

The coronavirus pandemic saw much of the European Parliament in lockdown (Image: GETTY)

He went on to lash out at the  "the recurring pettiness" of the Dutch government for refusing to help them. 

Several EU leaders acknowledge that Europe is likely to be hit by a severe recession if a joint response cannot be reached.

On Friday, Italy overtook China to become the second-worst affected country after the US.

Italy also recorded the highest daily rise in deaths anywhere since the outbreak began, with 919 fatalities, which means 9,134 people have now died from the virus in the country.

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