Faced with Covid, Europe’s citizens demanded an EU response – and got it | Luuk van Middelaar
The pandemic finally brought into being a European public, as we discovered that our health is a common concern
March 2020: an insidious virus seeds itself across the globe pitching tens of thousands in the European continent into a life-and-death battle. Most European countries secure their borders; millions of households lock their front doors. Hellish scenes flash by, feeding fears of infection. In Europe a disaster is unfolding, but there is no joint response.
The loudest cry comes from Italy, hit by the virus early on. Appeals for help go unanswered and bitter reproaches ensue. The EU is slow to react: the fact that Brussels’ institutions lack the “competences”, or formal powers, to act in the field of public health impresses no one. When, soon thereafter, an economic depression looms, prophets of doom start predicting the end of the EU.