However, the remarks prompted an angry response from an MEP from Italy’s Five Star Movement, who described both Jorg Meuthen and Dirk Jan Eppink as “shameful”. German MEP Jorg Meuthen, a member of the right-wing Identity and Democracy group and an ally of Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Lega party, made his remarks in a plenary session of the European Parliament to discuss the bloc’s 750 billion euro EU Recovery Package aimed at mitigating the impact of the crisis.
The plans include a commitment to offer 500 billion euros in grants, most of which would go to Italy and Spain, the two countries which have been hardest hit by the pandemic – but the proposals cut little ice with Mr Meuthen, who delivered his remarks while stood next to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
Mr Meuthen said: “This is nonsense. This is a huge price for EU citizens to pay.
“You are just spending as if there is no tomorrow with taxpayers’ money.
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Jorg Meuthen speaking in the Chamber, watched by Ursula von der Leyen
“This is completely lacking any responsibility or economic sense here.
“We are talking about huge figures of money here.”
Dutch MEP Mr Eppink, the vice-chairman of the eurosceptic European Conservatives and Reformists, described the scheme as “political suicide”.
Derk Jan Eppink compared bloc to Icarus
The EU is Icarus on the way to the sun
He added: “The European Parliament proposals are a coup.
“It’s not about corona, it’s about getting power in Brussels and the eurozone.
“The EU is Icarus on the way to the sun and we are going to stop you.”
Responding afterwards, MEP Dino Giarrusso lambasted both politicians, while attempting to link them to Mr Salvini.
He said: “They declared in plenary that helping the countries most in difficulty due to the pandemic is a ‘political suicide’ and a ‘coup’.
“Do MEPs from Lega and Fratelli d’Italia share the words of their allies or feel at least a little bit of shame?
“We are tired of anti-Italian invectives that spread prejudices and lies about our country.”
Speaking yesterday, former MEP Hans-Olaf Henkel told Express.co.uk: “The Corona crisis is now being used by some countries like Italy, Spain and France to get others like Germany, The Netherlands, Austria, Sweden and Denmark to help pay their debts.
“In other words, when politicians for instance in Italy spent money to attract Italian voters to his political party and thereby accumulated further public debts in Italy, they now expect taxpayers, say in The Netherlands, to ‘show solidarity’ and help pay Italy’s debts.
“In other words, the EU is fast becoming a like a club where members pay their bills regardless of what they have consumed.
“To finance its new and additional 750 Billion corona-reconstruction-package, the Commission now wants to introduce new taxes which would be levied on the EU citizens by Brussels and then flow directly to Brussels!
“In the current economic crisis, we need additional taxes like we need a hole in our heads.
“Rather than becoming a solution to our problems, Brussels is becoming the problem.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)