Von der Leyen demands reforms from Italy in return for receiving millions from EU

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During a conference about the future of Rome, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte discussed the concepts of how the ’Next Generation EU’ instrument can be used after the coronavirus outbreak. He promised “major reforms that have been missing for too many years”.

Commission President Ms von Der Leyen announced the EU would not “borrow money” from their children to “spend more today”.

She said: “We, the EU, are borrowing money from our children for the first time.

“So today’s investments must bear fruit for our children.

“We will not simply borrow money from our children just to spend more today, as our Member States sometimes did.”

Ms von der Leyen suggested reducing bureaucracy and measures against the impact of organised crime in the public sector.

She said: “The decisions that Ital) makes today will shape the Italy of tomorrow.

“Corona is also an opportunity for Europe to reunite. This is the hour of Europe.”

Speaking to La Stampe, Mr Conte said: “Now we have the funding to do this, the European framework allows us to do that.

“We must not waste this opportunity.”

Italy was one of the worst hit countries during the outbreak of COVID-19 and to date, more than 34,000 people have died due to the deadly virus.

Economist have warned of catastrophic economic effects for the already heavily indebted country.

Fears that Italy would follow the UK and leave the EU were raised during the deadly crisis.

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The coronavirus crisis put the weakening EU under strain and fury erupted in Italy over the way it was abandoned by its European partners during the coronavirus crisis.

Minister-President of Bavaria, Markus Soeder, previously warned without the UK and Italy, there will no longer be a “strong Europe”.

He told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “Brexit is now underway.

“I still cannot imagine a strong Europe without the United Kingdom, but without Italy, little remains of the original idea.

“The Treaty of Rome was the basis of the EU.

“Italy is the cultural and historical centre of Europe.”

He noted how the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 has “deeply affected and injured Italy”.

Mr Soeder said: “What happens in Italy affects all of us.

“Therefore, it is better to help with reason and wisdom instead of walking away and contemplating that ruins of Europe.

“This is a historic turning point in Europe. We can’t fail.”

He said the “psychological impact” of late or poor help from the EU towards Italy during the pandemic should not be underestimated as there is a “risk of a second Brexit”.

Mr Soeder added: “Europe without Italy or Spain is no longer Europe as we know it, so the EU would no longer make sense.”

He also mentioned how Italy were “badly treated” during the refugee crisis in 2015.

Brexit Party leader, Nigel Farage, also believes that Italy will be next to leave the EU.

He said: “Italy has suffered horrendously since it joined the wrong currency and when the COVID-19 crisis came the EU did not offer a hand of friendship.”

Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg

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