Fault lines are on display in the EU as the Northern hemisphere members have been perceived as less than supportive to the poorer Southern hemisphere members. The European commission’s vice-president Frans Timmermans predicted “the EU as we know it will not survive this”.
Finally, a last-minute package was agreed, for €500bn of emergency loan finance. This was little more than an extension of the existing European stability mechanism, designed to help individual countries in short-term emergencies. Even then, it was a mere third of what the European Central Bank had said was needed, €1.5tn euros. What was specifically not agreed was any sharing of the economic burden of the pandemic across European treasuries in general. It was mostly more loans.
Over the next fortnight, any hope of a truly concerted European response to Coronavirus is implausible. The EU has so far been inert. Nation states have been forced back on their own science, and their own health resources. Borders have closed and suppression has varied, from total lockdown to none at all. An exasperated EU research council voted no confidence in its chief scientist, Mauro Ferrari, who resigned in a huff.
With Germany, Austria and the Netherlands standing firm against the issuance of corona bonds to assist the weaker members of the union we can expect further discord among its members. How this plays out is anyone’s guess!