Solidarity Is Not What Europe Needs
As the COVID-19 outbreak in Europe worsened, the leaders of nine eurozone countries called for the issuance of “coronabonds” to help spread more evenly the additional debt governments would incur as they struggled to replace disappearing private incomes. But while the idea is sound, it was doomed by its proponents' justification.
ATHENS – Even if Britain and America were never really divided by a common language, as George Bernard Shaw once quipped, contemporary Europe is certainly divided by a single word that was meant to represent the European Union’s foundation stone: solidarity.
A malevolent demon seeking to maximize European disunity could not have calibrated better the manner in which COVID-19 hit Europe. Italy, still the hardest-hit EU economy a decade after the euro crisis – with the lowest growth potential, the largest public debt, the least fiscal space, and the most fragile of politics – has suffered an appalling human toll from the pandemic. The economic implosion caused by the pandemic will spread the suffering even further.
Likewise, Spain, whose people endured terrible unemployment and heart-wrenching home repossessions following the euro crisis, became an epicenter of the coronavirus. As for Greece, although the death toll, fortunately, has been low, the decimation of the tourist income on which our economy depends comes on top of a decade-long crisis that had already mired us in a mind-numbing depression.