Italy’s PM Conte rebukes neighbors’ reluctance to open borders

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte | Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

Giuseppe Conte calls the decisions by Austria and Greece ‘discriminatory’ and ‘totally unacceptable.’



Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday called the decisions by Austria and Greece to keep their borders with Italy closed “discriminatory” and “totally unacceptable.”

“There are some countries that think it’s appropriate to adopt measures against countries that currently have a higher contagion curve,” Conte said at a press conference, adding “there is no reason for Austria or Greece to take discriminatory measures against Italy.”

Italy today opened its borders to EU tourism, but most of its neighbors are excluding it from bilateral free-movement agreements, including France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Greece.

Conte said his government is working to prevent “discriminatory decisions against our country that I consider totally unacceptable.”

He also addressed the EU coronavirus recovery plan announced by Brussels last week, saying Italy is “in a hurry to elaborate our project and be ready” once the funding becomes available. He added that his country is keen to accelerate the process and is “working with Europe to anticipate more substantial resources.”

The prime minister fleshed out Italy’s priorities for the recovery, including investments in transport and digital infrastructure, fiscal reforms and fighting tax evasion.

Conte also said Italy will request access to SURE — the Commission’s loan scheme to support temporary work schemes, from which it expects to gain about €20 billion in support — as well as loans from the European Investment Bank. He remained on the fence about the European Stability Mechanism, saying he’ll evaluate together with parliament whether to access it, while adding “we remind everyone that it is a loan” and as such needs to be repaid.

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