The coronavirus will bring the European Union countries down to earth

European Union
European Union flag DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Perhaps the coronavirus vaccine could, as per predictions, be created before the end of this year, Mečys Laurinkus wrote in

There’s little information on Lithuanian news media on how scientists are faring, how research institutes are financed, how research data is exchanged at least within the EU. But in the ceaseless daily news flow, a review by scientific research professionals could contribute to generating an optimistic atmosphere.

So far, it would appear that all countries capable of creating a vaccine from the still mysterious virus are still working independently or even in mutual competition. Competition is nothing bad. It could even speed up the time of invention.

A separate topic is how the invention will be shared, what role will the very varied political relations between states play. One must admit that the current cooperation, even between allies, leaves little basis for admiration.

How should we take the US decision to cancel flights from Europe, not only without consultation but also without warning? What about within the EU? Are there aid lorries from friendly countries standing at the Italian border? They aren’t. But instead, there’s increasing numbers of conflict situation when crossing the union’s borders.

How many praises have been sung for the improved relations between Lithuania and Poland and nevertheless, Lithuania had to send a delegation to Warsaw (a phone call between heads of state was insufficient) to resolve growing chaos on the border.

The small reports on the Lithuanians faced with an awkward situation, described by Prime Minister S. Skvernelis even as dramatic, are a reflection of only a tiny part of emotions experienced.

It is evident that they will tell their relatives what they think about our strategic neighbour.

That said, the situation on the Polish-Lithuanian border has improved, but the sediment will remain. And a little piece of scepticism on strategic cooperation will also exist in the future.

Of course, whatever the case may be, science will find a means for the world against this challenge. But whether the virus can be overcome is hard to say. I am more inclined to believe in a continuation of this “nasty story”, one where the crisis is only partially contained.

I would rather not repeat the predictions and spread panic, but waving it off dismissively and starting to live with fatalistic moods is also foolish. Both Lithuanian leaders and analysts constantly remind us that we are moving into an unusual stage of life, a different lifestyle and even a different way of thinking.

When the pandemic once more declines to an epidemic and this – into a new, but “tamed” form of the disease, life will return to its usual track and perhaps even accompanied by a new wave of economic uplift. At least so predicts Ž. Mauricas.

Hopefully so, the economy has survived numerous “plagues”. However, the thinking of many will become far more realistic.

Currently, with restrictions just gaining momentum, a list of unpleasant conclusions already accumulating. It is once again becoming clear that in relations between states, appealing talks about values and solidarity, when faced with a real, not imagined threat, depart the high stage, yielding space for specific interests, pragmatism and also let’s not forget elementary egotism.

I predict that even if a belief in common efforts to achieve high values does not vanish in EU countries, many idealistic dreams will have to land to the ground. As D. Trump says – America first, everything else after. Of course, if time and desire remain for it all.

The United States of Europe will remain a literary dream of W. Churchill’s. His own country was the first to reject this idea. And even if the “hard” EU integration desired by several enthusiasts would happen, what would it be like during a time of challenges? E. Macron’s “curfew regime”?

By the way, E. Macron, making use of the opportunity, is taking shots at two issues: immigration and the yellow vests. I suspect that the French president reflects many an EU country head of state’s desires. The EU’s external borders can be closed “until…”.  There’ll be one or another reason not to open them just yet. And the virus contained even through immense efforts, can, according to scientists, recover.

The trustworthy, authoritative German R. Koch Institute predicts a pandemic that could potentially infect 10 million over two years. Of course, only in the case that strict rules will not be upheld.

Already back in 2017, the same institute raised the alarm regarding epidemics brought in by refugees. Tuberculosis, hepatitis, leprosy. At that time, the information was perceived as intimidation, an extra argument to limit immigration.

I do not doubt that this topic will be reborn in the “alternative” European news media and later – in political struggles.

It will be hard to dispute. Establishment, usually Euro-centrist, parties will be faced with a difficult time. So far, the governments and oppositions agree on measures to combat the virus, but opinions could diverge on strategic plans and actions.

Politicians will surface, who might be as straight-up – why do we need supranational institutions if, in the case of an emergency, they can’t organise orderly movement even within the EU? Is the free movement of people truly an undisputable value of Western civilisation? If we learned little from the rampage of Islamic terrorism, perhaps the pandemic will sober us up?

Such questions could land in Eurosceptic programmes. Contrary arguments claiming that terrorism operating on apocalyptic ideology, such as the so-called Islamic State, is already becoming the past, will convince very few.

It’s still uncertain how this organisation, which shocked the world, even while being pushed out of its den, will exploit the pandemic. And that it will, I have no doubt. We will hear of it already in a month. It will put most intelligence agencies around the world on alert. In Lithuania, there are still discussions on whether the VSD gathered information about presidential candidates legally or not. However, much more significant problems are rapidly approaching.
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