Will Europe collapse in this crisis?
The virus also seems to have brought the European project to a standstill: member states are closing their borders, restricting their citizens' freedoms and adopting largely national policies - in part also because the EU's powers regarding health issues are very limited. Commentators fear the populists could come out on top, but not all have lost hope.
The genie is out of the bottle
The fact that the key principles of open borders, freedom of movement and the Stability Pact have all been suspended highlights the existential crisis of the EU, The Spectator observes:
“A further example of the damage to the European project wrought by the epidemic is the break-down of European solidarity. Never a perfect concept in the first place, that solidarity under crisis is patently ceding to nation state reflexes. … What is certain is that some European political parties will be boosted electorally by Europe's feebleness in the crisis. Both Matteo Salvini in Italy and Marine Le Pen in France excoriated Brussels weeks ago for refusing to lift the Schengen agreements to stop the virus spreading ... The forced suspension of many of the EU's fundamental principles is a gift to them. Brussels will struggle to put the genie back in the bottle.”
Dream of a United States of Europe destroyed
The pandemic has shown that Europe does not want to be united, writes Lietuvos rytas:
“It is becoming increasingly clear that as soon as we encounter a real threat all the fine talk about common values and solidarity gives way to specific interests and pragmatism, or plain selfishness. I predict that even if the belief in common values does not disappear, many things will be shattered against the hard factual reality. ... The United States of Europe will probably remain just a literary dream of Churchill's. His country was the first to reject the idea. And if the so-called hard EU integration should take place after all, what would it look like in these times? Like Macron's curfew?”
Major disappointment ahead
Tygodnik Powszechny doesn't agree with those who fear that the European project will fail because of the pandemic:
“If the current crisis can lead us to draw one conclusion about the future of the EU, it is this: we need a new political agreement in Europe that clearly defines what we can expect from EU institutions on the one hand, and from national institutions on the other. If the expected economic collapse materialises, we will once again be disappointed that our narrative of the EU does not coincide with the EU that actually exists. But this sense of dissonance will always be smaller than what the Chinese or Russians feel when listening to their own national narratives.”