A keen observer of French political life and a regular contributor to the FigaroVox, Maxime Tandonnet notably published Andre Tardieu. The misunderstood (Perrin, 2019).
“I am very pleased that the Member States of the European Union have today reached a political agreement on the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia […] I heartily congratulate these two countries. It also sends a strong and clear message to the Western Balkans: your future is in the EU. “ This communication from Oliver Varhelyi, European Commissioner for Enlargement, posted on Twitter after a meeting with the ministers of the Member States of the European Union takes on a strangely quirky, almost surrealist tone.
Since the start of this crisis, the European Union has been strangely absent, if not non-existent.
Europe is hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is even the most affected region in the world today. Thousands are killed in Italy, Spain and France, and the epidemic is spreading everywhere, including Germany. Both the external borders and the internal borders of Europe are closed, locked, locked. Populations are confined, subject to draconian measures, unprecedented in recent history. European economies are in the process of collapse, while gigantic waves of bankruptcies, layoffs, unemployment are looming on the horizon. The certainty of abysmal public deficits, the inevitable return of the printing press and inflation threaten the survival of the euro. Political leaders speak of a real “war”. Experts and scientists are tearing each other apart, where nowhere does the end of the tunnel appear.
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Since the start of this crisis, the European Union has been strangely absent, if not non-existent. Worst of all, one of the most dramatic lessons from this tragedy is the disappearance of all solidarity between member states. The phenomenon had already played out in 2015 during the migrant crisis where everyone had played their individual card. Today, faced with the pandemic, this deficiency was even more glaring. In distress, Italy counted more on aid from China than from its European partners. There is no point in veiling your face: one of the essential lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is the agony, not of the Brussels institutions, which will somehow survive this debacle, worse, but that of the European ideal, that of Jean Monnet, the dream of a “Ever closer union between peoples”, that is to say the soul of the European project.
The announcement of the opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia resonates like the orchestra of the Titanic.
That the Commissioner for Enlargement can, in such an apocalyptic context, declare himself “very happy”, leaves one wondering … His proclaimed happiness resonates as strangely disconnected from the reality of European peoples suddenly plunged into anguish and death. Through these few words, it crystallizes the contempt of the peoples so often criticized for building in Brussels. These words express a form of provocation by the ruling elites against the men and women of this continent: nothing can stop the march of progress – enlargement – and especially not your tears or your blood. They give the image of a leak in denial. A whole world is crumbling, after Brexit, the “dissidence” of the countries of central and eastern Europe, now the tragedy of the coronavirus epidemic which buries the illusion of European solidarity. Therefore, the announcement of the opening of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia resonates like the orchestra of the Titanic.
European political leaders had better open their eyes rather than get bogged down in obsessions that are already from another era.
The health, financial and economic crisis of 2020 is probably only in its infancy. As the Great Depression of 1929 produced the 1930s and 1940s, whatever comes here will, whatever happens, have titanic repercussions on the political, diplomatic, strategic and ideological balances of the planet. No one has a clue what they will be, but these upheavals are inevitable. European political leaders, like Varhelvi, would do better to open their eyes and prepare for a world change than to bury themselves in obsessions that are already from another era.