Will Coronavirus Kill the EU?

While managing the COVID-19 outbreak in the short-term, countries around the world are looking ahead.

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The Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session in 2014. (photo: Diliff)

World leaders have been singular in their focus these past weeks; COVID-19, the novel coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan, China, has drawn every eye, every inch of newsprint. Scientific experts have long been predicting such a crisis, and even knew it was brewing in the poorly-regulated live-animal markets of China.

Now that it has spread around the world, leaders of each country afflicted by the virus have stepped-up efforts, to varying degree of effectiveness and success, to mitigate the worst of the damage.

COVID-19 is a threat to world-health, though perhaps not an unprecedented one. It is the economic aftermath that might be unprecedented, not only on a global and local scale, but at the geopolitical and social level as well.

That it will reshape attitudes about political issues such as immigration, globalization, and global politics is only beginning to be understood by the world’s political and religious leaders.

Just how much it might change attitudes and policies depends largely on what takes place over the next 60-days.

Some of the fall-out might not be good for the European Union and the world leaders who run it. It was incumbent of the leaders of the EU to act decisively to slow the spread of the virus and aid EU countries struggling to cope with the strain on their medical resources.

The COVID-19 outbreak was a lost opportunity, especially in the wake of Brexit, for the EU government in Brussels to prove how advantageous membership in the EU can be.

While Great Britain has certainly had its own problems dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, and continues to work to control the rate of infection, countries still in the European Union haven’t faired any better for their membership in it.

Italy in particular has been hit hard by the Chinese coronavirus, and Italian officials have expressed frustration and anger at the lack of support from the EU government body.

“Unfortunately, not a single EU country responded to the Commission’s call. Only China responded bilaterally. Certainly, this is not a good sign of European solidarity.” — Maurizio Massari, Italian ambassador to the EU

Chinese officials anxious to show themselves helping in the wake of COVID-19, have discovered that helping countries like Italy goes a long way when it comes to public relations and image.

It’s the ultimate face-saving.

Italy already has a closer economic relationship with China than other countries in the EU. With friends like China, Italy might reconsider the necessity of its membership in the EU and discontinue it.

In the wake of Brexit, it is important for the EU entice other countries not to follow suit. If another high-profile succession from the EU follows the first, a third won’t be far behind.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)

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