EU: The fairy tale of European solidarity
10th April 2020
Article by Neoklis Sylikiotis, Member of the Political Bureau of the C.C. of AKEL, former MEP
Last week (3rd April 2020), the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’, in a commentary, severely criticized the German government for its “uncompromising, petty-political and cowardly” stance with regards the issuing a special bond (‘coronavirus bond’) to address the consequences of the pandemic.
The ‘Der Spiegel’ article recalled the equally unacceptable stance of German Chancellor Angela Merkel eight years ago during the Eurozone crisis, when she refused to issue a “Eurobond” in support of the member states of southern Europe. In fact, to underline back then her intransigent attitude, Angela Merkel said that “as long as I am live” there will be no Eurobond.
The rampant rise of the coronavirus pandemic in Italy and its drastic upsurge in Spain, France and other European countries brought the problem to the last Summit of the leaders of the EU on 26th March 2020. At this Summit, three major problems were highlighted because of the pandemic. First, the issue of “European solidarity”, public health and the necessary economic measures to provide support for working people and businesses.
The first proved once again in a dramatic way that “European solidarity” is a meaningless declaration of no practical relevance.
Even in relation to severely affected Italy with many thousands of dead victims of the virus, there was no symbolic gesture of solidarity on the part of economically powerful Germany.
On the contrary, aid came from Russia, China and Cuba…
It is no coincidence that in some Italian cities, the flag of the EU has been lowered in public places and instead the flags of third countries which have sent aid to Italy have been raised.
The most shocking thing, of course, is that the EU on the initiative of Poland, banned Russian planes from flying over its airspace with aid and they eventually flew over Turkey and Greece to reach Italy.
As for the economic aspect of supporting the affected countries with the issuance of a special Eurobond (‘coronavirus bond’) that was proposed by France, Italy and Spain and supported by a total of 14 member states, despite the desperate cries of despair of Italian Prime Minister Conte, Germany, with the support of Austria, the Netherlands and Finland, once again formed a powerful wall of reaction. The stance of Germany and its close allies expressed their dogmatic commitment to the neoliberal model and was precisely the reason why they rejected the issuing of the ‘coronavirus bond’. The only thing Angela Merkel accepted was applications for a loan from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) with corresponding commitments and preconditions. That is to say, with Memorandum measures from which Greece, Cyprus, Portugal and other countries in southern Europe have a bitter experience.
The denial in practice of “Community solidarity” to share the danger brings to the fore the crucial question: what is the point of the “Union’s” existence?
The coronavirus pandemic provides yet more proof (the Eurozone crisis, refugee-immigrant issue) that there is a quite a big gap between rhetoric and reality itself in the European Union.
The pandemic has demonstrated very clearly the failure of neoliberalism to address complex situations.
Health systems particularly in countries with a tradition, such as the EU countries as a rule, because of the gradual dismantling of these systems in recent decades as a result of the imposition of neoliberal policies, as is the case in Cyprus too with the policies implemented by the Anastasiades-DISY government, are unable today to meet elementary needs triggered by the pandemic.
At the end of the day, together with the deadlocks of neoliberalism that have driven the peoples to poverty, unemployment and the lack of basic rights to health, education, housing, social welfare, and work, the fairy tale of supposed “European solidarity” is also breaking into pieces in the face of the pandemic’s thousands of victims in the EU member states, particularly in the south.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
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