EU budget chief Günther Oettinger hit back at Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s suggestion that EU rules are in part to blame for a deadly bridge collapse, saying it is “very human” to blame someone else.
“It is very human to look for somebody to blame, when terrible accident happens as #Genova,” Oettinger tweeted Thursday, adding that the EU has already funded Italian roads and trains to the tune of €2.5 billion in the current long-term budget cycle.
After Tuesday’s bridge collapse in Genoa, which killed more than 30 people and injured about a dozen others, Salvini suggested that EU spending rules have hindered the country’s ability to keep its infrastructure safe.
“If external constraints prevent us from spending to have safe roads and schools, then it really calls into question whether it makes sense to follow these rules,” he said, according to Bloomberg. “There can be no trade-off between fiscal rules and the safety of Italians.”
Commission spokesperson Christian Spahr also dismissed Salvini’s remarks, emphasizing how much money the EU has provided to Italy in recent years.
“We think the time has come to make a few things clear,” Spahr said Thursday. “In April 2018, the Commission … approved under European state aid rules an investment plan for Italian motorways.
“Under agreed fiscal rules, member states are free to set specific policy priorities, for instance the development and maintenance of infrastructure,” Spahr added. “In fact, the EU has encouraged investment in infrastructure in Italy.”
The spokesman also pointed to EU legislation requiring motorways to meet safety requirements and be monitored and inspected on a regular basis.