The European Union has been undergoing a major period of crisis as most member states brace for the financial consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. As the epicentre of the European breakout, Italy has been grappling with its long-standing economic issues, as well as the additional pressure, shutting down most businesses created. And the EU has now been warned the key member state could soon spark further uncertainty should Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte see his tentative party support plugged away in the coming months.
Speaking to CNBC, political analyst Wolfgango Piccoli said: “I don’t think Conte is going to be the one who sticks around for much longer.
“Remember, he doesn’t have a party behind him, he was a non-figure until he was picked up by the Five Star Movement.
“At some point, the Five Stars might decide to pull the plug on Conte to try to minimise his popularity from bleeding out.”
Prime Minister Conte was expected to step down last summer when the coalition Government the Five Star Movement (M5S) formed with Matteo Salvini’s Lega fell apart.
But the M5S ultimately came to an agreement with the Democratic Party (PD) to form a new government and agreed to keep the non-aligned Mr Conte in power until the end of the term in 2022.
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Mr Piccoli also expressed his concern whatever government is in place in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic could “mismanage” the recovery.
He continued: “My main concern when I look at Italy is that, as much as they mismanage the public health crisis, they are going to mismanage the economic recovery side as well.
“It’s already difficult now, we shouldn’t expect much clarity from Europe in addition to what we have seen so far.
“So rather than criticise Europe, the Government at home should be thinking more about what to do with the economy.”
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He added: “As of now, there are very few ideas and they are equally confused. That’s my concern in the short-term.”
Italy has been leading efforts alongside Spain to bring EU countries together in a joint effort to safeguard the eurozone from the worse consequences of the pandemic.
After a series of joint meetings of EU Finance Ministers, the bloc appeared to come to a tentative agreement last week over a recovery fund aimed at helping member states address the losses suffered during their lockdowns.
But despite Prime Minister Conte welcoming the agreement reached, albeit widespread criticism from Mr Salvini and other right-wing parties in Italy over the activation of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), it is unlikely Italy will see any money before 2021.
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European Commissioner for Transparency Vera Jourova on Wednesday said: “1 January 2021 is a very ambitious date to put in place the recovery instrument, and in the meantime, we must continue to make full use of the resources included in the current EU budget.”
Mr Conte this week announced his strategy to start easing restrictions in a bid to restart the economy.
The Italian leader insisted the Government remains focused on containing the infection rate to avoid a second wave of the virus but confirmed construction firm and related businesses will be allowed to open up next week.
Restaurants, museums and cafes will be reopening on May 18 but only in the areas less affected by the coronavirus to start with.
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