Europe is combating a pandemic. Physicians are combating for our public well being. Politicians and economists are about to begin a rescue mission supposed to salvage our economies and our jobs. At the identical time, the controversy over the form of the post-pandemic world is happening. Will a stronger Europe emerge out of the disaster?
A former doctor from Germany, turned politician, is main the European Commission. We would all wish to know which of the 2 mottos she follows: “primum non nocere” or “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” How will Ursula von der Leyen implement her imaginative and prescient of a geopolitical European Commission all through and after the pandemic?
Optimists and Euroenthusiasts argue that after the preliminary run-for-your-life/fend for your self knee jerk response, European solidarity and cooperation have taken root. The Old Continent is stuffed with examples of physicians and medical provides despatched from one nation to a different. Those in search of a silver lining anticipate this teamwork spirit to place the European economic system heading in the right direction. Quite quickly, it would additional digitalize, go inexperienced and grow to be extra egalitarian, they motive. Perhaps, Scandinavian economies might function a person guide. However, will such an EU lead world adjustments? Will it strengthen worldwide cooperation and establishments? Will it immunize our society towards future pandemics and different crises? After all, that is the essence of VDL’s and Charles Michel’s handle delivered on the March 26 EU summit. They plead for a mass, swift and coordinated response on a worldwide scale to save lots of lives and the world economic system.
Even although their plan feels like a no brainer, any response of that magnitude requires acceptable sources, an enormous quantity of belief and a typical goal. The newest summits of European leaders have confirmed that there’s no consensus on funding. What is even worse, tendencies towards utilizing the continuing disaster to push the ideologically loaded agenda of European integration are nonetheless prevailing. Just as was the case after Brexit, the Brussels elites didn’t study their lesson. Following the UK’s divorce with the EU, Eurocrats needed “more of the same” and such calls pushed London even additional away. The thought of the ever-closer Union with a centralized Brussels forms at its helm on the expense of nation states did no attraction to the Brits. Until at the present time, Brussels is dominated by discussions filled with requires coordinated motion aimed toward turning the EU right into a political entity.
I’ve at all times argued that the European Union shouldn’t be a membership purely based mostly on altruism. It is an establishment the place nationwide pursuits conflict and extra energy means extra energy. Therefore, the continuing disaster is getting used for pushing one agenda or chopping down the competitors. The recreation of Eurobonds (AKA coronabonds) is being performed amongst completely different Member States with completely different nationwide pursuits. The stronger a part of the Eurozone is not in vouching for the weaker hyperlinks of the membership in order that they might reap the benefits of low-interest loans.
On the opposite hand, Eurorealists don’t anticipate Europe to come back out any stronger and to have the ability to lead the post-pandemic adjustments. The virus is not going to change the rules of geopolitics. The conflicts and the crises which have been surrounding Europe since earlier than COVID-19 turned a family title didn’t stop to exist through the pandemic. The issues of Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa are nonetheless there. Once we hopefully pull by and defeat the virus, we can be compelled to face the identical array of conflicts round our neighbourhood.
Furthermore, our issues could also be multiplied if the pandemic hits Africa and the war-torn components of the Middle East. Camps stuffed with tens of millions of refugees and migrants will not be geared up like rich European states. In this case, can the geopolitically oriented EU double its efforts and assist these areas as soon as it lastly heals itself? It is price remembering that it has not been in a position to assist remedy the conflicts in Syria and Libya for almost a decade. Furthermore, it’s extremely unlikely that Russia and China will display a stronger willingness for cooperation.
In consequence, we can be going through an entire vary of dilemmas. Will we be capable of assist our Balkan neighbours and the Eastern Partnership nations? If so, how far ought to we go? Will loans and funding suffice or ought to they be eligible for European structural funding and a membership perspective? How ought to we approach Turkey in order that it stays a bulwark shielding us from exterior issues as a substitute of turning into an open gate to Europe? How can we revive the transatlantic ties and get again to a multifaceted and mutually useful cooperation?
Last however not least, how can we cope with China and Russia? Should we preserve our sturdy however poisonous financial cooperation with the authoritarian Beijing? Calls for a return of investments to Europe are starting to emerge. Such a state of affairs would ship shockwaves by the globalized world, however it might additionally ship a wholesome dose of shock remedy to the worldwide market.
Finally, it’s about time to outline Europe’s relations with Russia. Taking into consideration its aggression towards Ukraine that endured even all through the pandemic and Moscow’s pretend information offensive, it’s protected to say we can’t anticipate it to get any higher any time quickly. Russia is not going to get much less bellicose and extra keen to cooperate. Especially now, that the value of crude oil has hit a new backside. Growing poorer, Russia will attempt to make up for its losses. Will it resolve to strive one other army journey?
Geopolitical issues require a geopolitical stock test. Assertive European policymaking requires correct funding. The writer shouldn’t be naive sufficient to consider that after the pandemic is over, the European Union will now not squabble over ideology. On the opposite, it would proceed to waste sources on social engineering, supporting the supposedly excluded communities and so forth. Still, two areas can generate important financial savings.
Firstly, the European Defence Community has been nothing however a fable for years. We ought to get it collectively and at last cease daydreaming. We want to strengthen our safety structure by NATO as a substitute of attempting to compete with the Alliance and the USA. Will a bunch of European powerhouses be capable of cut back on their political and army ambitions for some time? It would function a major contribution to Europe’s post-pandemic financial endeavours.
Secondly, the so-called Green Deal. Giving it up doesn’t imply that we should always not defend the setting or restrict using plastic merchandise. However, altering our power combine must take extra time and it can’t cripple the economic system. Will a number of European powerhouses be keen to reach a compromise as a substitute of dominating your complete continent with their Green Deal?