Disinfo: Due to coronavirus, Italy is on the brink of default, many European states will likely cease to exist

Summary

The course of events in the next months can change Europe’s political map. Many European countries will likely not get through it, they will merge with bigger ones. Total economic downturns point at their absolute incapability to deal with the crisis. Italy is on the brink of default, and nobody can help it. The EU just does not possess enough money for saving the Italian economy. Everyone will care about himself in the first place. The situation is dramatic, similar events took place in the 1910s, 1920s, 1940s.

Disproof

This message paints a far-reaching gloomy economic and political scenario which is consistent with a common pro-Kremlin narrative about the EU's imminent collapse. Whereas the economic consequences of coronavirus outbreak for Italy are indeed grave and a sharp economic slowdown is expected, it will not inevitably face default as alleged. At present, no EU country has a credit rating low enough to justify that claim. The EU as a whole enjoys a very high credit rating. Before the coronavirus outbreak it was rated AAA/Aaa/AAA/AAA (outlook stable) by Fitch, Moody’s, DBRS and Scope and AA (outlook stable) by Standard & Poor’s. See earlier disinformation cases alleging that the coronavirus puts EU’s existence into question, that Italy, Spain, Portugal, and possibly even France are in line to exit the EU, that a number of EU countries teeter on the brink of default, and that the EU is rotten and countries are leaving it.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 190
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 23/03/2020
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Italy
  • Keywords: coronavirus, EU disintegration, European Union, Economic difficulties, Conspiracy theory

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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Disproof

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the disintegration of the European Union. The European Union is supporting the Member States in addressing the crisis, and mitigating the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. To cushion the blow to people’s livelihoods and the economy, the European Commission has adopted a comprehensive economic response to the outbreak, applied the full flexibility of the EU fiscal rules, has revised its State Aid rules and proposed to set up a EUR 37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector. To support scientific research into the COVID-19, the European Commission earmarked 47,5 million EUR for shortlisted research projects that can improve epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks. The EU has also created first ever stockpile of medical equipment. Read more about the EU's response here and here. There are also examples of EU Member States helping each other in times of crisis, for example German hospitals offering to treat critical coronavirus patients from France. Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the U.S. Army has taken a number of precautionary measures to reduce the unnecessary spread of the disease, including scaling down the U.S.-led multinational Exercise 'Defender Europe 20'. However the Alliance’s essential work continues and NATO’s ability to conduct operations remains intact.

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Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin narratives about sanctions and Russophobia. The European Union is bound by many things being based on the values like respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail. These values unite all the member states – no country can belong to the Union if it does not recognise these values. Since March 2014, the EU has progressively imposed restrictive measures against Russia. The measures were adopted in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and the deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine. Read similar cases claiming that the EU countries are adopting sanctions in order to keep unity, that anti-Russian position helped NATO countries freeze a drift in different directions and that Russian threat is an invention.