Speaking in an interview with FNA, Civili said unlike the EU states, “it was China that responded first to Italy's request for assistance sending three medical teams with a total of 36 people and tons of medical equipment. Tens of experts and healthcare workers have also been sent from Cuba and Russia”.
Max Civili is an Italian journalist and geopolitical analyst based in Rome. He produces reports for Press TV and appears as analyst on other TV channels. He contributes to local and international magazines.
Below is the full text of the interview:
Q: How do you assess the EU’s support compared with non-EU states like China?
A: Brussels has little to say when it comes to health issues continent-wide as EU countries have kept most of their sovereignty over healthcare policy. To address the fallout of Covid-19 the European Commission has opted to temporarily suspend EU budget rules with the European Central Bank launching a €750 billion bond-buying program to calm down sovereign debt markets. The EU could have certainly done more in promoting solidarity as a lack of esprit de corps among member states has been evident. In early March, not a single EU country responded to the Italian permanent EU representative's appeal for medical supplies while Germany and France were reportedly seizing millions of face masks and gloves intended for Spain and Italy. Instead, it was China that responded first to Italy's request for assistance sending three medical teams with a total of 36 people and tons of medical equipment. Tens of experts and healthcare workers have also been sent from Cuba and Russia.
Q: How do you think Italy’s economy will survive considering the sky-rocketing unemployment rate caused by the coronavirus outbreak? Do you believe the government has done much for entrepreneurs and employers on one hand, and workers, on the other hand?
A: Predictions are bleak, with the International Monetary Fund estimating Italy's GDP to drop by over 9 percentage points (about 170 billion euros) by the end of the year and trading powerhouse Goldman Sach's expecting a 7% increase in unemployment (from 10 to 17 percent). So far the Italian government has issued two stimulus decrees that offer companies of all sizes and self-employed entrepreneurs a total of 750 billion euros worth of liquidity and bank loans (about half the country's GDP). The Treasury, the country’s state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and its export agency Sace will shield banks from losses. However, some analysts have raised concerns over the feasibility of such measures. After ordering the suspension of mortgage payments and utility bills, the government has issued wage subsidies for more than 3.5 million employees who would be otherwise laid off. Current estimates of health care costs and economic losses due to the Covid-19 crisis are expected to be in the trillions of euros, making these measures wholly inadequate in the long period. The future of Italy's economy is very much tied to the EU financial response to the crisis.
Q: There are many legal migrants, and even more undocumented migrant or seasonal workers in Italy. How would they affect COVID-19 outbreak in the country?
A: There are currently more than 5 million legal migrants and about 600,000 undocumented migrants residing in Italy, with many of the latter living in miserable conditions in the country's most disadvantaged southern areas. It is estimated that a quarter of the food produced in Italy relies on the hands of more than 370,000 seasonal workers coming from abroad every year. However northern Italy's producers are today in desperate need for agricultural workers as more than 200,000 have not showed up in the fields due to the coronavirus crisis this harvest season. This as local producers have continued to exploit thousands of undocumented migrants in Southern Italy's fields. Unions have recently sounded the alarm over the high number of legal and undocumented migrants (about 250,000 people) working in the fields for little pay and without adequate protective measures.