The crisis-stricken country’s permanent representative in Brussels, Maurizio Massari, lashed out at the bloc and called for political courage, vision and solidarity on the part of European governments and EU institutions.Mr Massari said Rome had already asked for the EU Mechanism of Civil Protection for the supply of medical equipment for individual protection to be activated but not a single member state responded to the call.
Europe must act according to the principle of mutual defence and help those members whose security is under threat
Writing on the politico.eu website, he said: “We are facing exactly the type of emergency in which a ‘Europe that protects’ must show it can deliver.
“Unless we wake up immediately, we run the risk of going down in history like the leaders in 1914 who sleepwalked into World War I.
“The virus will pass, but any rotten seeds of complacency or selfishness will stay.
“The coronavirus crisis is a test of the EU’s cohesiveness and credibility — one that can only be passed through genuine, concrete solidarity.
“Europe must act according to the principle of mutual defence and help those members whose security is under threat.
“If we are courageous and united, we will win. If we are selfish and divided, we will lose.”
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Mr Massari said Italy had done everything it could to contain and manage the coronavirus epidemic with the government acting swiftly and with full transparency to put its citizens’ health first.
The whole country is now effectively on lockdown with public activities, including school attendance, sports gatherings, even weddings and funerals, all suspended.
But Mr Massari said Rome felt it was being left to handle the crisis alone.
He said: “This is a crisis that requires a global and — first and foremost — a European response.
“We are thankful to the European Commission for its positive engagement and to the president of the European Council for promoting a consultation among European Union leaders in order to discuss further coordination and possible common action.
“But it’s time now for the EU to go beyond engagement and consultations, with emergency actions that are quick, concrete and effective.”
He said leaders must ensure the supply of the necessary medical equipment and its redistribution among those countries and regions most in need.
He warned: “Today, this means Italy, tomorrow the need could be elsewhere.”
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen insisted all members states would stand
“shoulder-to-shoulder” to weather the coronavirus storm.
She said the Commission was setting up a joint £22bn investment fund from existing resources to cushion the blow to vulnerable sectors of the bloc’s economies.
She was speaking after a extraordinary summit of leaders, all of whom have now confirmed cases of coronavirus in their countries.
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