Europe After Brexit
While remaining wary of geopolitics, Germany has been carrying its weight on internal EU political matters, pointing to a potential division of labor between itself and France in the future. The question, as always, is whether Europe can find ways to preserve both its own autonomy and its close partnership with America.
BERLIN – “The UN was not founded to take mankind to heaven, but to save humanity from hell,” the United Nations’ second secretary-general, Dag Hammarskjöld, once said. The hell he had in mind, of course, was World War II and the Shoah, next to which most of today’s challenges pale in comparison. Nonetheless, disruptions like the COVID-19 pandemic and Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union have called into question many beliefs that Europeans previously took for granted.
Thanks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s leadership within the EU, Europe survived 2020 relatively unscathed. In fact, her stint in the European Council’s rotating presidency during the second half of the year will probably be remembered as one of the great political masterstrokes of post-war European history.
When the pandemic erupted last spring, it looked as though it would be every EU member state for itself. Germany, for example, temporarily banned exports of medical aid and equipment, despite the horrific, rising death toll in nearby Italy. But since then, Europeans have shown impressive solidarity in facing down the pandemic.