Corona: The EU Struggles for Relevance within the Fight against Coronavirus
Every morning at 9 a.m., a little group gathers on the 13th floor of the Berlaymont Building within the European Quarter of Brussels to discuss the latest within the fight against the novel coronavirus. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen takes a seat at the head of the table. Her cabinet head sits, at a significant distance, to her left, while on her right are her press people. Von der Leyen stares into a large screen where she can see the commissioners who are dealing with various aspects of the crisis. Even though their offices are just one or two floors beneath of which of von der Leyen, they nevertheless only meet up by video link – a precautionary measure because of the virus.
For about an hour one morning last week, the group discussed the situation on Europe’s internal borders, how to bring back European citizens who are currently overseas as well as the situation within the industrial sector.
Europe is usually taking action, of which was the message of which the images of the morning meeting were intended to convey – images of which were sent out on social media channels a short time later. Another truth, though, was not disseminated: Brussels doesn’t have a lot of say when the item comes to the corona crisis. as well as in those areas where EU institutions do actually have authority, they are struggling to gain traction.
In short, as the pandemic takes hold in Europe, the decades-old union is usually showing its weaknesses. While the EU managed to survive Brexit as well as the euro crisis, the corona crisis may yet prove to be an insurmountable challenge.
Instead of trying to come up with joint solutions, the Continent is usually becoming balkanized as well as is usually reverting to national solutions. Instead of helping each various other out, EU countries are hoarding face masks like panicked Europeans are hoarding toilet paper. The early decisions made by some EU member states to refrain by exporting medical equipment to Italy – the EU country of which has thus far been hit hardest by the pandemic – has even overshadowed the lack of European solidarity displayed by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán within the refugee crisis.
“Europe is usually Stronger Together”
Europeans are even divided on the question as to how to combat the virus. Whereas Germany is usually eager to prevent as many people as possible by encountering the virus as well as becoming infected, the Netherlands wants to see as many healthy people as possible fight off COVID-19, thus becoming immune. The signal is usually clear: When things get serious, every member state still looks out for itself first – even 60 years after the founding of the community. The question today is usually whether the European commissioner can do anything about the item.
Ursula von der Leyen studied medicine herself, which is usually why, as she has said, she listens closely to the advice of experts. Every two to three days, she joins a video conference with virologists as well as various other medical experts by several EU countries, with German participants including the virologist Christian Drosten by the Charité hospital in Berlin as well as Lothar Wieler by the Robert Koch Institute.
the item would certainly be inaccurate to say of which the commission president recognized the seriousness of of which crisis later than various other politicians. On the contrary, when von der Leyen visited her crisis center – a room filled with monitors as well as television screens – in early March for once, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had not yet said anything about the growing pandemic. the item was only a week later of which she delivered her first address to the nation about COVID-19.
Von der Leyen is usually eager to show how well prepared the European Union is usually, yet her own commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarčič, has put a damper on the sanguinity. Ultimately, he said during an appearance within the crisis center with the Commission president, little can be done on health policy without the member states. Von der Leyen later said: “within the financial crisis, too, the first reflex of the member states was a desire to do things on their own. although soon, the item became clear of which Europe is usually stronger together.”
As a politician, von der Leyen was never particularly shy about transgressing areas of responsibility. As family minister, she pushed through an expansion of daycare offerings despite the item being an area under the control of Germany’s federal states. Later, as labor minister, she fought to impose a quota on women in boardrooms, though the issue truly fell into the Family Ministry’s portfolio.
Catching Brussels Off Guard
Back then, of course, she was encroaching on the competencies of senior politicians in Germany’s governing parties. today, though, she is usually negotiating with people like French President Emmanuel Macron as well as Austrian Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz. as well as they as well as their counterparts around Europe are currently under intense pressure to demonstrate to their citizens of which all is usually being done to protect their health.
of which was clear last Tuesday within the first video conference held among EU heads of state as well as government on the threat posed by coronavirus. They agreed to coordinate their actions as much as possible as well as there was consensus of which supply chains should not be disrupted as well as the common market not endangered. although the very next day, Austria closed its borders. The Czech Republic as well as Poland followed a short time later, before Germany took the step as well. Berlin’s decision, in particular, caught leaders in Brussels off guard. of which Sunday morning, the item had been said of which the borders would certainly remain open, although just a few hours later, Berlin sent off a letter informing the EU of its decision to implement border controls.
Nobody wants to destroy the EU common market, although of which is usually essentially what is usually today happening. “When the item comes to border controls, actions were taken at the national level at the beginning of the crisis,” says German Economy Minister Peter Altmeier.
Initially, von der Leyen didn’t attempt to stop the cascade of border closures. She said she understood the member states’ “protective reflex.” although, she added, “the item is usually today important to realize of which the effects of the crisis are too broad to confront them alone. of which is usually especially true of our national economies.”
today, she at least wants to ensure of which the movement of goods is usually no longer impeded as well as of which stranded travelers can get home. The first wave of nation-first measures is usually today to be followed by more coordinated action.
“Too Late, Too Slow, Too Little”
The EU, of course, has closed off its external borders. The Commission president is usually hoping of which the move sends a signal of unity among the 27 EU member states as well as, perhaps more importantly, of which the item will reduce the urge of European countries to close off their own national borders. as well as von der Leyen is usually also trying to take more of a leading role when the item comes to softening the growing economic crisis. She would certainly like to make the item possible for member states to hold on to unused cash by EU regional development funds instead of sending the item back to Brussels, as is usually usually required. The total adds up to around 38 billion euros, which isn’t much given the severity of the problems of which are likely approaching.
“Too late, too slow, too little,” says Bernd Lange, a member of European Parliament with Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD). “On the whole, the reaction of the Commission has been disappointing.” The European spokesperson for the Green Party in German parliament, Franziska Brantner, agrees. “Everyone is usually focusing on themselves for today. There isn’t anybody to say: Ok, we’ll share the burden, we’ll organize the item.” Markus Ferber, a financial expert by the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), says: “Nobody can accuse von der Leyen of not delivering the goods in areas where she has no responsibility. although in areas where the EU does have a say, the item is usually too slow.”
Von der Leyen is usually working on additional measures to address the bloc’s economic problems. Countries will be able to ignore the debt rules as laid out within the Stability Pact, for example, as well as she also doesn’t exclude the possibility of issuing joint EU bonds – dubbed Corona Bonds in Brussels – despite Berlin long having rejected the idea within the past. “The principle we follow has to be of which of developing options of which could help within the worst case,” she says. “Excluding something by the beginning isn’t a Great idea in of which unprecedented crisis.”
the item isn’t yet clear, of course, how Europe will look at the end of the crisis. Von der Leyen’s agenda calling for a package of climate protection measures, the so-called Green Deal, is usually today likely passé. Instead, we have a resurgence of old reflexes of which many thought would certainly never return: mistrust, border controls as well as nation-first approaches.
Out of Place
Europe has managed to survive several different crises in its history. although of which time, optimism is usually in short supply among EU officials as well as diplomats. Indeed, the item would certainly be an important step if von der Leyen were able to enhance supplies of one important European value of which is usually currently running low: solidarity. She has already threatened penalties to member states of which prevent medical supplies by being sold to various other European Union countries. The fact of which she had to resort to such a threat on the issue demonstrates the problem the EU is usually currently facing.
Von der Leyen is usually having trouble reaching the citizens on an emotional level. In a normal crisis, she could head out as well as give people courage, not unlike German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder did following the massive flooding in 2002, when he marched out in rubber boots as well as shook every hand he saw. Von der Leyen briefly considered flying to Rome to demonstrate the EU’s solidarity with the plight in which Italy currently finds itself. although the Italian government had already banned its own citizens by traveling, which would certainly have made a visit by the European Commission president look inappropriate. All of which was left was for von der Leyen to record a brief video for the country, which was then translated into Italian. Some, though, found even of which gesture out of place.