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Will COVID-19 Bring Europe “Ever Closer”?

While critics say that the European Union has stumbled from crisis to crisis for most of its existence, its defenders counter that crises have made it both stronger and more necessary over time. As the bloc’s complex history and current challenges show, both claims are true.


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Jonathan Stein: Welcome to Opinion Has It. I’m Jonathan Stein, hosting our podcast today for a special edition episode. Since World War II, European integration has always seemed to move fastest in a crisis. And the past year has been a watershed. When the pandemic hit, the European Union brushed aside its deficit and debt taboos, and its member states unleashed massive stimulus spending. And last July, EU leaders agreed on a €750 billion recovery plan to be financed by issuing joint European debt for the first time ever.

Archive Recording: We begin with a European Union that is celebrating exactly that: union.

Archive Recording: The deal, which came after four days of tough talks, is a big win for the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and maybe an even bigger win for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Archive Recording, European Council President Charles Michel: This is a good deal. This is a strong deal. And most importantly, this is the right deal for Europe right now.

Archive Recording, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: This is an urgent and exceptional necessity for an urgent and exceptional crisis.

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