Merkel’s pity does not help Italy

Chancellor Merkel may well have been pretty much the last head of government in Europe to make a public statement on the coronavirus crisis. But what she said in Berlin on Wednesday does not help Italy – it hurts.

“The virus has arrived in Europe, it’s there, we must all understand that,” Merkel said in Berlin on Wednesday – while a state of emergency has already been declared in Italy.

“Our solidarity, our reason, our hearts for each other have already been put to the test,” she continued. It sounds like a priest in church, but it does not replace politics.

Merkel also expressed German solidarity with Italy. The reports from there “depress us very much”, she said. Germany also thinks of the people in Italy with great sympathy and hopes that the strict measures taken there “will bring a change for the better”.

That almost sounds like mockery. What is needed is not “sympathy” but solidarity. And that is what is lacking, especially in Germany.

The German government has not even provided relief supplies or medicines – although Rome has asked Berlin for help.

But that did not come. Instead, China has acted: Beijing promised 2 million protective masks and 100,000 respirators – free of charge.

Merkel is not even prepared to become active at EU level. The euro debt rules (introduced at Germany’s request) are already flexible enough, she said.

“Of course we are not telling Italy that it cannot invest in its health system”. That would be even nicer…

The Chancellor continues to oppose an EU-wide economic stimulus package worth billions of euros, as demanded by France, for example.

No wonder that the anger about Merkel (and Germany) is growing – almost like in the euro crisis…

Translated with DeepL. The original post (in German) is here