Italian President Sergio Mattarella used a rare national address Friday to call on Europe to change the way it deals with threats like the coronavirus.
Mattarella said that despite the mushrooming number of infections and the growing death toll from the coronavirus, Europe was still underestimating the might of the global pandemic.
“I hope everyone will fully understand, before it is too late, the seriousness of this threat that we in Europe are facing,” Mattarella said.
Without going into specifics, Mattarella said European leaders had to change the way they handle such threats, saying more cooperation and proactive action was necessary.
“New initiatives are vital,” he said. “We must overcome old ways of thinking that are now out of touch with the reality of the dramatic conditions facing our continent.”
Striking a similar note, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa warned on Friday that the European Union (EU) is in danger of ending if it doesn’t act properly amid the economic and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The European Union will either do what it has to do, or the European Union will end,” said Costa during a visit to Center for Excellence and Innovation in the Automotive Industry located in Matosinhos, 315 km north of Lisbon.
“The priority of the priorities is to save lives,” he stressed.
The prime minister’s remarks came a day after Dutch Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra criticized Spain’s budgetary policy in a videoconference with his counterparts from the 27 EU member states on Thursday.
“European Commission should investigate countries, such as Spain, that say they have no budgetary margin to deal with the effects of the crisis caused by the new coronavirus, even though the eurozone has been growing for seven consecutive years,” said Hoekstra, quoted by Portuguese Lusa News Agency.
Costa had criticized the “anti-EU spirit” in the Dutch minister’s remarks late Thursday following the videoconference, Lusa reported. Enditem