Friday, the 13th: It’s taken a virus to show up European disunion


Italy asked Germany to send face masks and testing kits. It was China that answered the call. (Beijing sent medical experts and promised the cheap and speedy provision of 2 million face masks, 20,000 protective suits and 1,000 respirators.)

Members of the European Union (EU) have been violating their own rules. For instance, the cherished principle of the European single market was violated by both Germany and France when they restricted the export of medical supplies.

So too the free movement of people, a principle violated by Austria and the Czech Republic when they banned travellers from Italy, the locus of the pandemic on the European continent.

Never mind Brexit, the European bloc has never looked more divergent, with countries pulling in different directions, each for itself.

As Paul Adamson, founder of Encompass, an online magazine on the EU, recently said: “European values, solidarity, sticking together sound like hollow phrases, and we haven’t reached a spike in the virus yet”.