Europe has obligation to help Italy, PM tells Italian daily La Repubblica

"In the course of a couple of weeks, Europe and Italy have changed forever. This year wasn't supposed to look like that," said Morawiecki. Matteo Corner/PAP/EPA

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote in the Saturday edition of Italian daily La Repubblica that Europe has an obligation to help Italians struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, adding that the EU has effective tools to tackle an economic crisis.

In an article entitled 'Time of European hope,' the Polish head of government said that Europe faced "the existential challenge of the coronavirus pandemic." He expressed the conviction that in the current situation, the European Union has to show willingness to change.

Addressing Italians, the PM wrote: "An invisible enemy has broken our defence lines, cruelly affecting first northern Italy, then the rest of your beautiful country, then Spain, and now the whole continent. News coming from Italy fills us with deep sadness at every death but also give hope that a better tomorrow is possible."

"In the course of a couple of weeks, Europe and Italy have changed forever. This year wasn't supposed to look like that," the prime minister continued, pointing out that 2020 marks many exceptional anniversaries for Poland, which - he wrote - "we wanted to celebrate together."

In this context he mentioned the 40th anniversary of the emergence of the Solidarity trade union in Poland, "a trade union, that was a great social movement against totalitarian, communist repression and social atomisation; 'Solidarity,' which knew so many good friends from Italy and in which millions of Poles sought strength against the evil Soviet empire." He added that 2020 is also the centenary of Saint Pope John Paul II's birth.

Morawiecki drew attention to the fact that the current crisis had unexpectedly deeply affected the economic fabric, which affects business people, workers, citizens, states and local governments. He said the "desolation" had caused "deep wounds that will be hard to heal." However, he pointed out, the European Union has effective instruments to tackle an economic crisis.

"We need an ambitious EU budget, ambitious cohesion policy and Common Agricultural Policy, that will help rebuild the EU's economy," Morawiecki wrote. "We have to find new, just sources of financing the EU budget based on sectors that most use the common market. We need bold solutions increasing investment and repairing the situation on the labour market, which will affect all 27 member states."

He asserted that, "half measures are no solution today."

"Europe must show a will for change through limiting the grey zone and fighting the VAT tax gap," Morawiecki wrote, highlighting that tax havens reduce the member states' incomes by about EUR 170 billion a year.

"Let's say BASTA! together. We cannot allow the weakest to pay for this crisis, at the same time turning a blind eye to the iniquities of the world's wealthy," the PM wrote in La Repubblica. "We are in a position to defeat the coronavirus pandemic," he concluded. "In solidarity. But it will only be won on the offensive. It is time for a European offensive. For Italy. For the whole of Europe."