Produced each year by two European foundations, the German Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Spanish Fundación Alternativas, the Report on the State of the European Union is truly special in 2020. The EU had never experienced two major crises at the same time, affecting both health and the economy, and certainly not of the magnitude unleashed by the coronavirus pandemic. They come alongside another crisis, this time political, in the shape of Brexit, the first time that a Member State has decided to leave the European Union.
The explosion of COVID-19 is unprecedented in the lifetime of the European project, or even, we might dare to venture, on the whole planet. The humanitarian consequences have been and continue to be dramatic and societies and Governments have demonstrated that they are ill-prepared to fight them. One million deaths due to the virus has caused great uncertainty, and an economic crisis that forces politicians to decide between health or economics as in the Piped Piper of Hamlin. This is a false dilemma because without health, the economy would collapse. However, some governors were swept along by production requirements, often having to rectify their decisions as new waves of the pandemic hit.
This aspect is covered in this Report, although it does not monopolise it. As usual, we are studying the state of the EU from its different perspectives.
Out of this analysis, it appears clear to us that only an integrated EU will be able to fight a tragic pandemic the likes of which the inhabitants of Europe have never seen before. These are exciting times for EU fans: the EU now has the chance to take on 21st century challenges and carry out the necessary structural transformation in its economy towards greater sustainability, inclusion and the ability to adapt.
If it is successful, the EU will come out of this stronger internally and externally, showing its strength and sovereignty as a global player, whilst remaining consolidated and supportive internally. This is certainly a colossal challenge but also a huge opportunity.