September 25, 2020

Coronavirus outbreak eats into EU unity

The coronavirus crisis really brings into question what the EU is all about.

Clearly not a United States of Europe, as eurosceptics have often claimed.

Right now, every European government is struggling to protect their populations – their jobs, their health and their economy.

But rich, europhile countries like Germany are not yet digging deeper in to their pockets to help out poorer Italy and Spain. There’s little sense of the responsibility West Germany felt towards the East after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Why would there be, you might ask. Germany is a sovereign nation, facing its own pretty big problems.

But therein lies the question: What does European Union really mean?

More from Katya Adler: Can EU get a grip on coronavirus?

Germany has sent medical masks to Italy. It has taken coronavirus patients from France and Italy into its hospitals for treatment.

But it has also rejected a plea by Italy, Spain, France and others to share out coronavirus-incurred debt in the form of coronabonds (or Eurobonds).

Many Italians feel abandoned, just as they did at the time of the euro and migrant crises.

This week, a group of Italian mayors and other politicians bought a page in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper to remind Germany that it was never made to pay back its debts after WW2.

They criticised the public lack of support in the wealthy Netherlands too.

An 81-year-old close family friend in Italy called me this week to say: “Katya, you understand about Europe, don’t you? Why don’t they want to help us?”

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