Coronavirus outbreak threatens to destabilise the European Union as cracks start to show

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Mar 29, 2020, 03.06 PM(IST) Edited By: Bharat Sharma

An illustration showing the flags of European Union. ( Wikimedia Commons) Photograph:( Others )

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Leaders this week have admitted locking horns over the financial fallout that has followed the COVID-19 outbreak

The fast-growing death toll from coronavirus has crossed 21,000 in Europe, with hardest-hit Italy and Spain both reporting more than 800 deaths each in the past twenty-four hours.

Out of 30,847 lives lost worldwide, more than two-thirds of them have died in European countries where Italy has the highest number of fatalities with 10,023 deaths, followed by Spain that adds 832 new deaths today.

France reports 319 more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic over the last 24 hours, bringing the total death toll to 2314.

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The daily toll, while severe, is however lower than the 365 new deaths reported on Thursday this week.

The pandemic has also swept into the Scandinavian countries with over 12,000 positive cases and nearly 200 deaths.

Denmark and Norway closed their borders, restaurants and schools weeks ago but Sweden with its unorthodox approach still has its bars and restaurants open.

The death toll in Sweden has reached above 100.

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Leaders this week have admitted locking horns over the financial fallout that has followed the COVID-19 outbreak.

The European Union is facing perhaps its biggest threat as the coronavirus pandemic exposes divisions among member states.

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte has warned that the European Union could lose its purpose if it fails to come up with a strong response to the coronavirus threat.

"I want to say that on this I will be inflexible. We are open to any kind of debate. But here we have a meeting with history. The European Union has to prove if it can rise up to the challenge that history is posing", Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

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Italy and Spain want the EU to start issuing "corona bonds", a form of common debt that governments sell on cheaper interest rates.

But the Netherlands and Germany are sceptical fearing their big spending southern neighbours will exploit the crisis to push for a pooling of eurozone government debts.

The President of the European Commission has begged the member countries to show solidarity  but the crisis has only underlined existing divisions.