Europe suffers with Italy, says von der Leyen, vowing more help

The European Union will stand with Italy as it battles to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday, responding to criticism that the bloc had been slow to help.

“Dear Italians, in this difficult moment I would like to tell all of you fighting against the virus that you are not alone,” von der Leyen said in a video message in Italian.

“Europe suffers with Italy,” she said. “In this moment, in Europe we are all Italian … rest assured that this family, your family, will not let you alone.”

Italy is the EU country worst affected by the virus, with more than 12,000 cases confirmed and 827 deaths as of Wednesday. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday put the entire country under lockdown to try to slow the spread of the virus.

Acknowledging those measures, von der Leyen said Europe was following events “with preoccupation, but also with profound respect and admiration.”

The Commission has come under fire for reacting slowly to the crisis, leading to EU countries acting alone. Some have banned exports of protective equipment such as face masks to neighboring states.

“Its time now for the EU to go beyond engagement and consultations, with emergency actions that are quick, concrete and effective,” Italys ambassador to the EU Maurizio Massari said Tuesday in an op-ed for POLITICO, criticizing a lack of “European solidarity.”

Von der Leyen said she had tasked her commissioners to work with drugs firms and manufacturers to increase the supply of Read More – Source

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