Might the EU be the coronavirus's next big fatality?
Too big to fail? It's not just small business sinking with the Chinese coronavirus, the European Union itself may go down like the Titanic.
That's the cold realistic verdict from France's alarmed president, Emmanuel Macron, who warned of just that in an interview to the Financial Times (subscription only) warning Europe's complacent EU technocrats to start helping Italy and other nations crushed under the coronavirus nightmare, or else.
According to London's Express:
Emmanuel Macron insisted Brussels had “no choice” but to set up a rescue fund that allows member states to share the debt burden of their coronavirus pandemic with richer neighbours. In a scathing assessment of the bloc’s response to the outbreak, he said the EU faced a “moment of truth” to prove whether it was more than just a single economic market. “If we can’t do this today, I tell you the populists will win — today, tomorrow, the day after, in Italy, in Spain, perhaps in France and elsewhere,” he told the Financial Times.
“I believe the EU is a political project. If it’s a political project, the human factor is the priority and there are notions of solidarity that come into play… the economy follows on from that, and let’s not forget that economics is a moral science.”
“You cannot have a single market where some are sacrificed.(")
Macron is trying to set up a $432 billion European Union recovery fund (EU400 billion) for the coronavirus's hardest-hit nations. Germany and the Netherlands, (knowing the fiscal ways of Italy), are against it, and compared to U.S. coronavirus spending levels, it isn't even that much.
Macron says that their attitudes are basically outdated and instead of looking at the Italy of today, felled by the black swan event of the coronavirus, they are looking at the Italy of yesterday, suggesting that Italy brought in on itself.
Macron argues that the "sinners pay" philosophy doesn't work for a huge external event like the coronavirus pandemic. And, forcing Italy and the rest of the hard-hit nations to carry the entire burden, it's very likely that these nations are going to leave, asking what good their European Union membership does it. Of course they will want out -- and when the bigs like Italy start leaving, it's over. The elephants exit with thunder. Germany will be left alone with its money, and not very popular at that.
Macron drew a probably not-perfect analogy to the lessons of World War I (eerily when the last pandemic happened), citing how France forced Germany to pay ruinous reparations for the war, and Germans paid them back by electing Hitler.
He obviously views every populist leader as another Hitler, which is an overly broad smear on populism, and probably a swipe at President Trump.
However, this being Europe, he might even be right. A ruined post World War I Italy did set the dominos falling by electing Benito Mussolini, and not long after, Germany followed.
In any case, this represents the first time a militant European Unionist like Macri has come out with such statements. Up until now, the European Union has simply apologized to Italy for not helping them out in their hour of need, which is kind of pathetic, and then carried on as usual.
Macron must be some kind of student of history. He's seeing something the rest of them don't see, and it might just take the whole wretched project, which never should have been there in the first place, crashing down, maybe the biggest casualty of all (save Red China) of this coronavirus and its fallout. Just as U.K. Prime Minister's close encounter with COVID-19 demonstrated that the coronavirus exempts no one, so Macri's warning signals that there's no too-big-to-fail from it, either.
Image credit: Pixabay public domain