The European economy, like the rest of the world, has been hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic. The EU was able to start a recovery in July, August and September of last year as the bloc’s GDP grew 12.6%, its biggest increase since the record started in 1995. But at the end of 2020 , that progress was abruptly reversed as infection rates increased in some of the EU’s most influential countries. Germany and the Netherlands are set to extend their respective lockdowns, with some reports even suggesting Chancellor Merkel may impose severe restrictions until April.
However, one country where the political impact of the pandemic can be felt more than others is Italy, where experts have warned people have started to lose faith in the EU.
When the initial outbreak led to chaos in the northern Lombardy region, Italy received little support in the form of financial aid or protective gear.
The EU and the European Central Bank eventually turned back on this position, but a message had nonetheless been sent to the Italians.
Marc Lazar, professor of history at Sciences Po University in Paris, told Bloomberg last April: “Italy was in love with the European project and it fell in love. I do not know if Europe will be able to regain this confidence. “
In a survey in April 2020, 59% of Italians said the EU as it was no longer made sense.
In another, most Italians described China as a friend and almost half said Germany was the enemy.
Pier Paolo Baretta, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance, added: “If the Italians do not see a positive result, Euroscepticism will grow, or also an anti-German policy which could be rooted in the deep psychological past of our country. country.
“In our historical memory, Germany has always been an adversary in difficult times.”
The IAI, an Italian think tank, found that support for the EU had risen in Italy from 44% in April to 56% in November, but warned that the pandemic was still having an impact on Italians’ view of the country. block.
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He said: “Sometimes crises make people come together more – there is the old adage that Europe is” forged in crises “.
“But of course, you can have a crisis too far, and some crises end up exploding – in this case, monetary union.
“I think both of those possibilities exist, and it’s hard to say which one is more likely.
“There is a chance that all of this will end, as the legitimate demands of the southern states will not be possible for the northern states, which could eventually lead to a departure of a southern state.
“The northern states could even leave en bloc.”