The hedge fund veteran’s admission comes as discontent appears to be growing among Italians as their country slowly emerges from the lockdown. Initially, Italy was Europe’s worst-hit country in the pandemic and the first to go into lockdown. Brussels refused to grant Rome’s requests for medical supplies or economic aid unless the Italian Government surrendered functions to the bloc.
The complete lack of solidarity among member states in one of its most testing hours has left a sour taste in the mouths of many Italian voters.
In an interview with Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, Mr Soros, 89, warned the plummeting support for the bloc in what was once a country with strong pro-European views could have devastating consequences for the EU.
He said: “I am particularly concerned about Italy. What would be left of Europe without Italy? Italy used to be the most pro-European country.
“Italians trusted Europe more than their own governments, and with good reason.
“But they were badly treated during the refugee crisis of 2015.”
The chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC said dissatisfaction with the EU had been simmering beneath the surface for the past five years due to the migrant crisis.
“More recently, the relaxation of state aid rules, which favour Germany, has been particularly unfair to Italy, which was already the sick man of Europe and then the hardest hit by COVID-19.”
Italy was one of the founding members of the then European Economic Community when the Treaty of Rome was signed in 1957.
The businessman’s warning comes as a recent survey of 1,000 Italians by Tecne showed four in 10 (42 percent) favoured an exit from the EU.
This number was up from 26 percent in a similar survey conducted in November 2018.
The poll carried out in April showed only a quarter of Italians would be prepared to remain part of the bloc if Europe approved measures to help Italy in its hour of need.
Mr Soros said perpetual bonds would allow the bloc to survive the crisis.
This bonds would lock countries into the institution forever even if voters disagreed with the move.
Mr Soros said if the EU did not introduce the bonds there may be “tragic” consequences further down the line.
He said: “If the EU is unable to consider it now, it may not be able to survive the challenges it currently confronts.
“This is not a theoretical possibility; it may be the tragic reality.”
Published at Sun, 24 May 2020 09:28:00 +0000