Italy was the first country to suffer a serious outbreak of the new coronavirus in early February. When hospitals became overwhelmed, the country issued an emergency appeal to other European Union member states for medical supplies.
No EU countries responded, fuelling a sense of abandonment and disillusionment. Germany and France then imposed export restrictions on protective equipment as they sought to secure their own stocks.
Half of Italians are now in favour of leaving the EU according to a poll by the Tecne Institute. That has led European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen offering Italy an apology.
“Yes, it is true that no one was really ready for this. It is also true that too many were not there on time when Italy needed a helping hand at the very beginning. And yes, for that, it is right that Europe as a whole offers a heartfelt apology,” Ms von der Leyen said in a speech to the European Parliament.
She spoke as the parliament prepared to debate their response to the pandemic. Too little, too late?