Maria Katsounaki MARIA KATSOUNAKI

Europe without a respirator

COMMENT

TAGS: Coronavirus, Politics, Economy

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to be “doing well” on our own during the pandemic. The word itself, pandemic, suggests that, apart from the scale of the virus’ spread and the incalculable danger, there is a pressing need for European Union powers to come together.

Praise is a consolation. An imaginary hand tapping you on the back and telling you, in these ominous times, “Bravo, you are doing well.”

Authorities have acknowledged that the aggressive spread of the virus has been limited in this country so far. The French ambassador to Greece, Patrick Maisonnave, expressed his admiration at the mobilization of Greece’s administrative apparatus, “even though it has been weakened by 10 years of crisis.”

Maisonnave noted that the Greeks are adhering to the rules imposed “in a calm, exemplary manner.”

A Daily Telegraph report praised Greeks for their stance regarding the measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus, despite the nation’s general tendency toward rebellion.

And they are not the only encouraging words we have heard at this time.

But are they enough to tackle the worst crisis in Europe’s history? No country can reach the end of the coronavirus marathon alone on its own strengths – not by taking good care of itself nor by losing control of the situation, as has been the case in Italy and Spain.

In this war we count not only the dead, but also allies. The front is common, and coalescing is necessary.

The outcome of Thursday’s seven-hour conference call of the leaders of the 27 EU member-states was a dismal one. The proposal by the “nine” (including our country) to issue a Eurobond met with the refusal of Germany and the Netherlands.

Only this time it’s not everyone’s finances that define the process, but death. It is not a melodrama, nor is it a flare-up of 19th-century melancholy and romanticism. Former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi warned of the inevitable recession in the European economy and the need to avoid a systemic crisis through coordinated interventions, “without any delay.”

Failure to agree on a common strategy at this time, on a common economic front, is like admitting that the virus has infected Europe’s lungs, and depriving it of a respirator.

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