President Trump, you’ve got company. The European Union also is on the hot seat for its tardy and ineffectual response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Come November, U.S. voters will have an opportunity to fire Trump for rank incompetence. But Americans should be rooting for the EU to raise its game. Otherwise, Europe could emerge from the COVID-19 crisis fatally weakened in every way — broke, politically fractured and unable to resume its role as America’s main partner in world affairs.
Euro-skepticism was rising even before the crisis hit. Britain emphatically reaffirmed its decision to quit the EU last December. Across the continent, insurgent populist parties have been gaining ground on the strength of promises to curb migration, shelter workers from globalization and “restore” national sovereignty.
Against this backdrop of rising nationalism, the pandemic is putting the EU to a stern test of efficacy and relevance. As Europeans struggle to contain the plague and keep their economies from unraveling, can Brussels organize mutual aid that’s equal to the magnitude of the crisis? So far, the answers haven’t been encouraging.
Italy was the first EU country to be hit hard by the virus. As the pandemic ravaged northern Italy and economic life sputtered to a stop, its neighbors were excruciatingly slow to lend a hand.
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