THE EU AND COVID 19: RISK OR OPPORTUNITY?

Submitted by BIC on Fri, 05/15/2020 - 14:23

Commentary by Amb. Marc Otte

BIC President and Belgium Special Envoy for Syria

 

" The European project was launched on the motto “never again”. After two devastating wars on European soil, political and civil society leaders outlined a vision based on integration and cooperation, in order for the nations of the continent to rebuild destroyed infrastructures and societies, but more importantly to prevent the resurgence of the mistakes of the past.

 

The model was articulated around the principles of rule of law, democracy, solidarity and economic liberalism. The project was built around a strong transatlantic partnership. The prosperity and peace it brought to Europe became a powerful magnet for other regions of the globe. Together with trade and investment, it was the foundation of the external action and influence of the European Union and inspired Asian, African and MENA countries as model of regional integration. Besides the projection of values mentioned above, it promoted the concept of “effective multilateralism” in the world of globalization and of a neighborhood of “well governed” friendly partners.

 

The impact of COVID 19 did not so much reveal new issues as it underlined the threat of existing trends: the new world disorder, erasing the notion of cooperative security structured after the end of the Cold War and the return of balance of power politics, including destabilization of the transatlantic partnership; the global threat of climate change coupled with demographic growth; the impasse of the global economic system; the lack of human development. The European Security Strategy of 2003 had already listed most of these challenges.

 

So is it the moment for another ‘never again’ impetus for Europe?

 

The HRVP Borrell has underlined in a statement published last April that he saw three dynamics at work:   the future of globalisation and neoliberalism; the evolution of global governance; the resilience of the European Union and democratic European political systems when coping with serious and unforeseen risks. This requires leadership, new common policies (such as health) and new capabilities to reach the goal of the EU becoming more of a geo-political actor, in the interest of its citizens and of all humanity."