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Opinion

What the pandemic means for Europe – editorials

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Another international crisis, another bad show from Europe. No government or multilateral institution has been covered in glory in the current coronavirus pandemic. Even with these low standards, the response from the European Union (EU) and its member states has been remarkably inept. Existing protocols for sharing medical supplies during a health crisis were ignored. The beloved principles of freedom of movement in Brussels were hastily abandoned. There was a eurozone crisis that was curtailed by the “coronabondos,” and frugal Europeans in the north feared they would end up paying for the fiscal irresponsibility of the southerners. There was a palpable feeling that virus-ravaged Italy and Spain had to fend for themselves, with China providing the only outside help.

However, the idea that a united Europe is one of the victims of the pandemic is an exaggeration. The EU is not responsible for medical crises because Member States never developed a common health policy. Euroscepticism has increased, but mainly in Italy, and has been offset in part by the poor example set by Brexit Great Britain. The supplies provided by China, largely paid for and subsequently proven to be faulty, have been outstripped by what European governments have delivered themselves. The European Central Bank has spearheaded a series of financial aid efforts, including for developing countries. Many things will be forgiven if a post-crisis Brussels seizes the opportunity to broaden the scope of EU political action.

New Delhi will be among the capitals hoping that Europe can restore some of its credibility. India and the EU have made progress in their relations, going beyond seemingly endless trade and human rights disputes, and beginning to recognize that they have common strategic concerns that must be prioritized. The hope is that these strands can be recovered again after the virus is defeated.

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