There was a time when Europe looked doomed

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 July, 2020 at 2:16 pm by Andre Camilleri

As we enjoy our summer with the sea and the hot balmy nights, as we get back to normality or something near enough to it, we look back on these past months and relive the horrors the world has been in.

In some parts of the world – Latin America, Australia, the US  – the horrors are still there with millions getting infected and thousands dying.

From our corner of the world we look and remember – the days of lockdown when everything was shut and death stalked the streets. When fear reigned supreme and when loved ones began to die off at an alarming rate.

Those were the days too when Europe, the EU, looked as doomed as the Covid victims. When governments forgot any links between them and fought over any extra ventilator available. When countries took decisions inspired more by fear than solidarity.

That was the time when the EU looked like a basket case, doomed to disintegrate and the European dream that had sustained it these past decades appeared incredibly fragile.

We had just assisted at the UK marching out of the Union and there were not the riots on the streets as had been forecast nor the queues at the harbours.

People then started to forecast doomsday scenarios linked to Covid and turned the lack of communication at the initial stages into the last rites of the Union.

Then,  slowly, Europe got its act together. Meetings were held, at first with virtual communication, then face to face. Agreements were drawn up and ways found around what had seemed like intractable obstacles. Then frontiers were opened and flights resumed.

But then crunch time came and the leaders of Europe met in Brussels for the final round of the usually difficult negotiations on the next seven years budget. This time, Britain was not there and the budget cake had to be trimmed.

And Europe came up with a big bazooka of funds to help the citizens of Europe face up to the impact of the pandemic on national economies.

To get there, the leaders broke their own strict rules and allowed spending to go far beyond what the previous rules allowed.

Then there was also the conflict, much harped upon by the media, between the small group of countries, led by The Netherlands, and the rest with the former insisting they would not pay for slack policies of other states.

So the leaders underwent night after night of complicated negotiations, getting upset and angrier all the time. But at the end, agreement was registered.

The fall of the EU, much forecast, did not happen. As for the other blocs, the US is having a very bad election year with riots on the streets and Covid everywhere.

Here in Europe we have many problems – migrants, xenophobia, rigidity, etc – but we are not as bad as the nay-sayers would have us.

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