If it’s fatuous to point out that a crisis stress tests systems to destruction it may be less so to argue that concentrating on one challenge may allow another, second crisis gather momentum. It is too early to suggest, but only just, that EU solidarity, that essential glue in today’s volatile world, is being tested in a way hardly seen since WWII came to an end 75 years ago to this week.
Brexit talks continue and the indications are not reassuring. Brussels and London haggle, each following an almost irreconcilable script. A hard Brexit pre-pandemic would have had disastrous consequences for this economy, a hard Brexit post-pandemic hardly bears thinking about.
Contemporary etiquette, for very good reasons, decrees that Germany is seen in a particular light but the few remaining survivors of WWII would be disheartened to watch as that country - and others too - adopts a hard, devil-take-the-hind-most line on how the EU’s economic response to the crisis might be engineered.
The rebuke offered by Germany’s Constitutional Court to the European Central Bank and European Court of Justice seem a clerk’’s response when leadership was never more essential. Those WWII survivors would be appalled too by the kind of authoritarianism active in some EU member states, even more appalled that the EU does so little to oppose that rise.
This fracturing comes when solidarity was never more important. Cornoavirus, climate change, economic collapse, America’’s trade wars, China’’s huge ambitions cannot be confronted successfully by individual European states.
This week’s anniversary is as good a reason as any to remember why the community was established and how important it is that it remains strong and relevant. That may require more effort and sacrifice than is immediately apparent or available.