As the coronavirus pandemic rages through Europe — where more than 250,000 people have now been diagnosed with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and 15,000 have died — the foundational pillars of the European Union are crumbling one by one.
Faced with an existential threat, EU member states, far from joining together to confront the pandemic as a unified bloc, instinctively are returning to pursuing the national interest. After years of criticizing U.S. President Donald J. Trump for pushing an “America First” policy, European leaders are reverting to the very nationalism they have publicly claimed to despise………
In an article titled, “Coronavirus Threatens European Unity,” Bill Wirtz, a political commentator based in Luxembourg, observed:
“As the coronavirus unfolds, Schengen countries are shutting their own borders. Whether or not they do so because they believe that a coordinated European response would be inefficient, or whether they believe that their own voters wouldn’t buy it — at this stage it’s irrelevant. The mere fact that borders have resurfaced in Europe is a failure for the integrity of the Schengen open borders agreement….
Darren McCaffrey, the political editor of the France-based news channel Euronews, wrote:
“In the past couple of weeks, solidarity has collapsed in the bloc. Countries have started imposing border controls on neighboring EU countries, and even Germany has taken steps to manage the flow of people entering and leaving its territory.
In an article titled, “Nations First: The EU Struggles for Relevance in the Fight against Coronavirus,” the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel noted:
“As the pandemic takes hold in Europe, the decades-old union is showing its weaknesses. While the EU managed to survive Brexit and the euro crisis, the corona crisis may yet prove to be an insurmountable challenge.
The signal is clear: When things get serious, every member state still looks out for itself first — even 60 years after the founding of the community.”