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Di Maio: “The European Union must think of reconstruction rather than a new beginning ” (El Correo)

How are you living these moments?

“With concern but also with a great sense of responsibility. Italy and Europe are going through the biggest emergency since the Second World War. We are carrying out and hectic activity. We continue to look for aids abroad, through our diplomatic network and, we are studying how to restart our country as soon as we have adequate health conditions. It’s a difficult time, but I’m sure we’ll soon recover”.

Are you disappointed with the EU’s response to the pandemic so far?

“Today, we are facing a global pandemic, and the EU must be able to give a united, strong and adequate response. We must keep in mind that now there are no shortcuts, no one can do it alone; this challenge is won and lost together. Europe has a crystal-clear choice ahead of it: either react quickly and decisively or be unprepared again”.

A crisis of confidence seems to have developed between some EU countries amid the pandemic. Could it lead to an internal breakdown?

“In the EU, there have always been and always will different positions among the Member States on certain issues. But now is the time for unity, not distrust. Italy has always honoured its commitments and debts. Last year we had the lowest deficit/GDP ratio since 2007 (1.6%). We indeed have a great public debt but accumulated over 20 years ago. Both the first and the second Conte government have been virtuous, avoiding the further growth of the inherited debt. We believe it is in the interest of all EU countries to ensure the functioning of the internal market, of which Italy, the third-largest economy in the EU, is and will always be a fundamental pillar”.

Is the EU losing the opportunity to use this crisis to strengthen a joint project?

“To meet the challenge facing the EU, we are called to make a decisive change of pace. For those who believe in a united, strong, and united Europe, a Europe that looks to the future, it is time to take decisive steps, using all means to ensure economic recovery. It is time to think as a team.

How do you rate the Netherlands’ position? And that of Germany?

“Each country has its own positions, but now is the time to let the common interest prevail over those of the few. We are not talking about what aid Italy or Spain needs. We must ask ourselves what future we want to give our children, our grandchildren and all the people of Europe. We must come out of this crisis in the best possible way; we must all row in the same direction. The future of Europe itself is at stake, and economically it will have to compete with the world giants. We must work to strengthen the EU, not to divide it”.

Could the new ISM (European Stability Mechanism) be useful to Italy?

“The one about the ISM is a false debate. The issue is not the ISM, but in what direction Europe wants to look at from now to the next 2 months or to the next 10 years. Sure, and the Bei credit line steps forward, but if we count the total funds, we reach about 300 billion, we need 1,500, Centeno also said. Faced with the firepower of the US and China, the EU must rise to the challenge. We must not think of a restart, but a reconstruction. They are two different things”.

Are Eurobonds/coronabonds indispensable to get out of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic?

“The point is not the name we will give to the instruments to combat the crisis. We need to find the best instrument and react together to the deepening economic crisis. We need all the strength of the EU and European state guarantees to make Europe’s future secure”.

Is there an axis between Italy and Spain right now?

“Italy and Spain have a remarkably similar view of the current emergency and share the idea that innovative responses are needed to meet this unprecedented challenge. This stance is demonstrated by the joint letter that both countries signed before the last European Council. The confrontation and various forms of coordination are intense and constant, at all levels, in these phases”.

Do you think there will be a growth of Euroscepticism in Italy and Spain?

“Euro-scepticism stems from the perception of a European Union far removed from its citizens, who do not have their interests at heart. If a timely and adequate response to the crisis comes from Brussels, allowing the Member States to cushion the disastrous effects of this crisis and giving them the tools for a prompt restart, then there will be no reason for growing scepticism about the EU”.

Will China and Russia’s influence in Italy increase after the health aid sent in recent weeks?

“Italy has received aid from all over the world; there are no political colours in the face of solidarity. We are not talking about geopolitical structures or alliances, to which Italy remains loyal; we are talking about humanity. When it comes to providing aid, each country offers what it can. The fact that we have received solidarity from a great many States is certainly a positive sign”.