How weak is the EU in the crisis?
The vaccination campaign against Covid-19 is gaining momentum in some EU countries, but vaccination rates are still low compared to those in the US and the UK. The Next Generation EU recovery plan for the pandemic-weakened economy was quickly adopted last year, but not a single euro has been distributed yet. Are doubts about the EU's effectiveness in the crisis justified? Commentators are divided.
Exit has become more attractive
The EU is sawing off the branch it's sitting on, Jyllands-Posten comments anxiously:
“The haggling over the recovery plan comes hot on the heels of the the scandalous handling of the vaccine, where incompetence in Brussels is causing the EU to fall hopelessly behind the US and the UK. ... The opinion polls conducted in the UK 100 days after Brexit should also serve as a warning sign for the EU. Two-thirds see the success of the British vaccination programme as a result of the fact that Britain is outside the EU. ... If another referendum were held, 54 percent would say yes to Brexit, while 46 percent would say no. We can only speculate on what the outcome would be if a vote were held in the EU nations right now.”
UK and US far more unstable
The EU is not doing all that badly, the Financial Times pitches in:
“If you are looking for political unions that are in 'deep trouble', or threatened by break up, the US and the UK are currently more plausible candidates than the EU. America has just seen Congress stormed by an angry mob and one of its two major political parties has gone sour on democracy. The UK is struggling to cope with the revival of violence in Northern Ireland and to fend off a second independence referendum in Scotland, which could easily see the country lose a third of its territory. Compared with this, the EU's problems seem relatively mild.”
Criticism is the best medicine
The EU must learn from its mistakes, insists La Vanguardia:
“The EU's credibility is severely tarnished. ... This is also raising doubts about the second major task the bloc must tackle this year: the distribution of the multi-million recovery fund. ... After the vaccination fiasco the EU cannot afford any more mistakes, otherwise it will lose its raison d'etre in the eyes of many EU citizens. Saying this does not make you anti-European. On the contrary. Being self-critical and demanding is the best way to create a strong, functioning, united and respected Europe and to prevent us from being relegated to a sofa outside the picture.”