The coronavirus outbreak has been not only been a challenge to individual European countries but for the European Union as a whole.
Recently, in an open letter published in a German newspaper, Italy has accused the Netherlands of showing a lack of solidarity during the current coronavirus outbreak, reports NOS.
Lack of financial support for hard-hit countries in Southern Europe
The open letter was written by 12 Italian mayors, governors of different regions and a member of the European Parliament.
EU feud between Italy & NL goes next level. Prominent Italians (economists, governors and mayors) publish letter in Frankfurter Algemeine asking Germans to distance themselves from the Netherlands – country that’s “not ethical and inclusive” (v @paulkirbyuk) #coronavirus https://t.co/i5v86Jp1VF
— anna holligan 🎙 (@annaholligan) March 31, 2020
In their view, the Netherlands is the head of a group of different countries that are blocking more financial support for countries that have been strongly affected by the outbreak, especially countries in Southern Europe, including Italy. Germany is called upon in the letter to not join this group of countries which do not offer support.
Italy has been left feeling unsupported by its fellow EU countries during the crisis. Italian newspapers over this past month have criticized the Dutch approach of not allowing more money to be freed up for loaning through the EU emergency fund ESM and Eurobonds.
This crisis cannot end with our countries being put up for sale. In this moment, we have to strengthen our Union and its market. Countries that are still hestitant about this – who will you sell your technology or tulips to, if the European market is not protected? pic.twitter.com/HeUehTBCGC
— David Sassoli (@EP_President) March 28, 2020
The criticism went even further, with some newspaper describing Prime-Minister Mark Rutte as being ‘cruel’, and that the Netherlands is a tax haven for Italian corporations, therefore not allowing their tax revenue to be invested back into Italy, reports NRC.
Criticism on the Facebook page of the Dutch Embassy in Italy
Italians have flocked over to the Facebook page of the Dutch Embassy in Italy to express their dismay at the Dutch approach at the European Union level. While some people express understanding, many have expressed their anger.
There have been calls for boycotting Dutch products, and people have described the Dutch as being selfish and ‘brutal money lenders’.
People go even further, using examples from history, from the slave trade to the Dutch response during the fall of Srebrenica.
A difference of opinions in Dutch politics
Not all Dutch politicians agree with their country’s official stance as of now. For example, Gert-Jan Segers, leader of the ChristenUnie political party, said during a talk show on Op1 that a financial support plan similar to the Marshall Plan (developed to help Western countries after WW2) needs to be established and that Italy needs to be helped. This echoes a similar message of support from D66 leader Rob Jetten.
Should the Netherlands demonstrate more solidarity for European countries as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds? Let us know in the comments.
Feature Image: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr