Pam Barker | Director of TLB Europe Reloaded Project
- Portugal has closed its borders (air and land) with Spain for a month, and Spain is restricting entry to residents, nationals, immigrant workers and those on emergencies. Behind Italy, Spain is the EU country most hit by the virus. See here.
- Serbia, a non-EU member state, is disgusted by the EU ban on exporting medical supplies, instead resorting to help from China. It has locked down its borders, closed teaching facilities and is using the military to guard sites such as hospitals. See here.
- After closing schools and non-essential public venues such as restaurants, France has given people 48 hours to prepare for a lockdown lasting 15 days (probably to be extended), in which people who can must work from home. Public spaces will be patrolled by police; sanctions will be applied to people socializing outside, and people have to be able to account for why they’re out if required to. Only essential shops and services are a reason to leave home. Meanwhile, today, March 17th, many people are taking a train out of Paris to escape the lockdown. The borders have been closed.
- Germany is patrolling its borders, prohibiting entry to non-nationals from certain countries (France, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Denmark) of several which bound it. Four others have not been affected so far. This mainly concerns tourists travelling by road. See here.
- The EU generally is advising against non-essential travel to it for a month. See here and here.
Note that the closing of borders, contravening the free moment of people (and goods, although I imagine this won’t be prevented) under Schengen, is a very big, symbolic deal. ‘Leaders’, or what passes for them in the EU, such as Merkel and Macron, have so far been resisting this with all their might.
Here is a summary of points made in the highly interesting video discussion from The Duran team below, although we do recommend listening to the fine tuning of Alexander Mercouris’ breakdown:
- Leaders of EU member states (EU Council) haven’t even met to decide on a common approach because there is no agreement among them. So it’s been left to individual governments to decide an approach. Each of these countries are pretty hollowed out – there are no strong leaders in the member states except in the East.
- But even individual governments aren’t acting very decisively, either. Even in Italy. It doesn’t compare to China’s response. Italy lacks respirators and couldn’t get them from Germany, which makes them! It had to get them from China. Italians are angry because they’re not getting the support they expected. It’s every country for itself right now.
- Consider the European propaganda over the years – it’s all a sham. The EU is all about subjugation, not solidarity. Recall: Cyprus’ banking system was collapsed by the EU, yet money was given to Ukraine. The EU is all about destroying member states. Cyprus has a strong financial sector; the EU just took a sum of money out of each client’s account(s) to bail out two banks. The Cypriots rejected this. Cyprus was also forced to restrict the clients it could deal with, i.e. Russia. Greece has been simply obliterated. Greece was forced to bail out its banks, which meant paying German and French banks (Deutsche Bank and BNP Paribas). The entire burden was thrust on Greece instead of the banks also taking some of the hit. Greece is still in a dire position, kept in bankruptcy. The same is true of Spain and Italy. Italy has had no GDP growth in 20 years. Italy’s debt levels are very high – 150% of GDP.
- How is Italy going to go on funding itself and its debt when its in lockdown?
- The EU has been a system of transferring funds to the centre, i.e. Germany and France, from the periphery, i.e. Italy, Spain, Greece & Ireland, to keep Germany going primarily. The EU is a market for German goods. The EU does distribute money to member states from its ‘structural funds’ but they always come with conditions – that German or French companies will get the contracts. So funds drain from periphery. It’s not good for German people either – they’re complacent and have lost their cutting edge. Germany is falling behind in the technology race.
- With the Schengen open-borders madness, they’ve tried to destroy our cultures, and now we’re suffering from the virus and they won’t close the borders (ER: they’re finally doing this to some degree). The leaders are standing behind Schengen. Now many countries such as Poland, Austria, Slovakia – those with a sense of sovereignty – are closing their borders. This virus is exposing the reality of the EU, and the system is cracking because governments are being forced to do what they must unilaterally. So an EU with internal borders isn’t the EU we’ve known. If there are internal borders, how can you have a currency? The cracks then become gaping holes.
- Referring to Tom Luongo’s article (The Real Crisis Starts Now in Europe): The Germans won’t be willing to bail out Italy’s massive debt. Germany’s AfD party is strong, and attitudes are hardening in Germany against bailouts. The EU has a disastrous ability to keep going! It patches itself together and clanks on with more havoc and disaster – until the next crisis. It has been very effective in hollowing out effective leadership in key member states such as France, Germany and Italy (not countries such as Hungary and Poland, however), and even among its own institutions. But how can Europe keep clanking along? What if Italy can’t service its debts? What can Lagarde do? They’re doing massive QE, and they’ve got negative interest rates, which has upset many Germans. More and more QE will create pushback from the Germans which Merkel can’t refuse because Germans simply won’t accept this level of debt. Prediction: the EU monetary union is going to break down.
- Italy: Salvini is made for this crisis – he’s always been sceptical of EU solidarity and has been proved right. He wants Italy to control its own affairs and borders. He is bound to rise as a result of this. The Italian govt isn’t coping well. The quiet policy is to leave vulnerable, old people to live or die because they can’t cope with all these sick people. People may turn to Salvini. Italy is now a bigger EU player with UK gone. But other states are getting very Eurosceptic, too. Merkel has lost her authority both within the EU and Germany.
The virus has exposed the underlying structural problems within the EU that have always existed. The logic points to some kind of major EU breakup. The credibility of the EU system is shot. It can’t organize resistance to the virus and can’t help Italy.
COVID-19 exposes EU’s inept & clueless leadership (Video)
The Duran Quick Take: Episode 500
The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the European Union’s inept, disjointed and completely confused response to the COVID-19 virus.
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Populist Italian senator Matteo Salvini has criticised the leftist coalition government’s mass quarantine decree, saying it does not go far enough to protect Italians from coronavirus.
Salvini, who leads Italy’s most popular party, the League, said that the decree does not go far enough in locking down the country to stop the spread of the virus which has topped over 10,000 cases this week.
“I read the decree all night, that’s not enough: I read that hardware stores, laundries, perfumeries, and tobacconists can remain open,” Salvini said, newspaper Il Giornale reports.
“Doctors ask us to close everything that is not strategic for the country for the sake of public health. Then I read the decree and saw that in the industrial sector, in transport, it’s all open: in Milan, the subway is crowded,” he added.
The former interior minister went on to say that while currently many European Union member states have sealed off their borders with Italy, in the coming weeks it may be that Italy is forced to close its border if cases within the country are brought under control.
On Facebook, Salvini described the coronavirus situation as like being at war, a sentiment shared by some doctors in Italy, and warned that the death toll would exceed 1,000 by the end of the week. The 1,000 number was reached later that same day.
Salvini had slammed the government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in late February over the handling of the outbreak, saying: “It is essential that, from today (if they haven’t already done it yesterday), anyone who enters Italy, by any means of transport, from the raft to the aeroplane, be checked. And if it comes from some areas, it will be isolated for fifteen days. As other countries do.”
After the outbreak became more widespread, Salvini then offered to join the government in a national unity coalition but members of the Democratic Party and Conte rejected the proposal.
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