Debt Crisis, Brexit, Now Virus. Can the EU Survive?

Nikos Chrysolaras, Bloomberg, 13.05.2020

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The European Union is in crisis, again. Effectively the world's third-biggest economy, the 27-nation bloc is struggling to muster a united response to the deepest recession in almost a century unleashed by the coronavirus. Old divisions have resurfaced and legacies of past crises are threatening to pull it apart. While this isn't the first time the EU has faced an existential threat, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says none has been as serious as this one. [...]

How bad might things get this time?

Bad enough for Merkel and France President Emmanuel Macron to make dire warnings. Past experience shows that EU leaders will do just about enough to salvage the situation and avoid the worst, according to Janis Emmanouilidis, a Brussels-based analyst at the European Policy Centre. Doomsayers have consistently underestimated the political will of Europe's establishment to keep it together, but doing only enough to avoid implosion, and only after all other options have been exhausted, may not be a viable strategy in the long term. The EU's share in global economic output has been shrinking, the bloc has been unable to display foreign policy muscle and appears increasingly squeezed between the U.S. and China. Critics warn that if the bloc's leaders keep defending petty interests, the EU may end up becoming ever more irrelevant and, as the poet T.S. Eliot once put it, will end "not with a bang but with a whimper."

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