“The COVID-19 crisis: Ten Takeaways for the EU”, Paul Schmidt (ÖGfE, Austria)

What does the Covid-19 outbreak mean for the future of the European Union? Paul Schmidt presents ten takeaways for EU leaders, arguing that while the initial reaction has focused on closing borders and the role of nation states, there is a clear need for stronger European cooperation.

“When the end of the world comes, I go to Vienna. Everything happens there ten years later”, Austrian author Karl Kraus supposedly said. These times are finally over. Our world is in a state of emergency and we are right in the middle of it.

The coronavirus keeps us breathless causing feelings of helplessness and fear. In the absence of vaccines or medicine, countries around the world are increasingly locked down, closing their borders and reducing basic rights such as the freedom of assembly and movement in order to curb the contagion rate of the virus and protect their national health systems.

Not long ago, EU-countries were infighting over the second decimal in the next multiannual EU financial framework. Now, economic assistance packages worth hundreds of billions of euros are being set up in the various capitals to mitigate the consequences of the standstill, at least for the first few weeks. Is the nation state currently the actor of last resort? Has the EU failed? Not at all. In fact, the EU is only as strong as its members want it to be. Difficult times can teach us many lessons and some of them may already be on the horizon. The following list offers ten takeaways for the EU from the crisis so far.

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