Coronavirus: a European failure?

Most European are on lockdown due the Covid19 situation in the continent. 200,000 people infected (probably more), 8,000 dead: those are the scary data. The situation has worsened for the past 3 weeks. Did the political responses come too late?

A virus that was far away

By January, most of the world was preoccupied by the coronavirus but considered it as a “Chinese” or a “Wuhan” virus. It was only affecting China and its neighboring countries. He virus was far away from Europe, except for a few cases that were under control.

But a “virus doesn’t have a passport”, as French President Macron said last week. In few days, the virus spread to Iran, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and our very own Italy. The virus was not far way anymore.  

And the state of emergency began. Europe was not that prepared to face the Covid19. All European countries are now affected. The richer ones even more. But they have more or less efficient health services. What about poorer Eastern countries?  Some of them like Hungary informed that they don’t have good enough medical supplies or enough doctors to treat all of the people infected.

The virus has arrived and it was every country for itself.

National responses

Even though the EU, via Ursula von der Leyen, tried to have an early common response in February, it is not difficult to see that political leaders didn’t take the situation seriously by then. Every country has its own prerogatives and have made their own decisions in a hurry.

For the first time in History, the EU has closed its external borders as well as its internal ones. And basically, those were national decisions without really consulting the EU institutions.

German, French, Italian and Spanish passports are now turned away in most of the world. We are “persona non grata”.

And the decisions are not the same according to the country. Italy decided to lockdown 10 days ago, while in Spain it’s been a week. In France, the real lockdown started last Tuesday. Other countries like Germany only closed bars and restaurants while the Netherlands won’t lockdown the country as they obviously want their people to get the virus and to be immunized (which is not a 100% sure).

The worst thing is that Europeans themselves don’t seem to take the situation seriously. They don’t respect the lockdown, nor the curfew. Staying home is for now the only way to contain the contagion.

National responses, why not. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to nationalist solutions…

The end of Europe?

Is Europe facing its worst crisis in peace time? Probably. The economic losses may be worse than during the 2008 crisis. Socially, lonely people can be at risk during lockdowns. Politically, it is a failure. European leaders’ response was slow and not coordinated. The EU was stuck in the middle of it.

Health is a national field. Other fragile European countries ask for medical help but it is not clear if others will help them as they also need stocks.

The EU probably won’t end but will suffer a new severe crisis, again. This is a European trend: when you seem to overcome a crisis, another one is coming.

For all of you reading this, stay home! Take care of yourself and your relatives.

Wassila ZOUAG