The outbreak of the coronavirus in the world has affected the East and the West, and in addition to many casualties, has dealt blows on the economies of most countries in the world. For example, according to the Eurozone Economic Rescue Fund, the European Union will now need to receive at least €500 billion from European institutions to overcome the post-corona recession. The International Monetary Fund also predicts that the EU economy will shrink by 5.7 per cent this year.
Meanwhile, Italian leaders and public opinion have recently sharply criticized EU officials for not paying enough attention to the situation in the country in the face of the coronavirus. Following internal disputes in the European Union, the EU failed to pass a plan to protect European states from the coronavirus. According to reports, major disputes arose between the Southern Europe states, including Italy, Spain and France, and the countries of northwestern Europe like Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland. Europe has had a difficult time fighting the coronavirus and hopes to control the virus in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, it is interesting to see why Italy has been so incapable of dealing with the coronavirus and the casualties; part of the problem is that the over-involvement of a country like Italy in the corona crisis goes back to the European Union, because the EU did not perform well in the corona crisis, and we have seen many inefficiencies on the part of the EU.
Part of Italy’s problem is its infrastructure, which is weaker than in other European countries. Another problem is that in Italy because coalition governments have been formed in recent years, there was virtually no strong central government that could deal with the crisis. At the same time, Italy is one of the countries in Southern Europe that, along with Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal, has suffered many crises since the 2008 economic disaster.
It should not be forgotten that because in recent years a series of right-wing coalition governments have been formed in Italy that have not been very consistent with EU policies, there have been differences between Rome and Brussels.
The next point is that the European Union, in view of its complex governance mechanisms, has dealt with the corona crisis somewhat passively. The complex mechanism of governance in the European Union has in many cases led to this actor entering the field too late and failing to adopt a coherent policy. In almost all economic, political and security crises, the European Union has reacted too late.
The reason for this is that the EU cannot act quickly and decisively on issues regarding security matters. In the case of the outbreak of the coronavirus, because it relates to public health and has security consequences if the same process is followed, it will lead to passivity and, consequently, divergence in the EU. Currently, the EU’s confrontation with corona and its aftermath could have negative effects on European integration, and after Brexit, which in some ways led to the failure of European integration at one time the corona crisis is likely to spark differences between the countries most affected by the virus-like Italy and Spain.
In fact, European convergence has declined in recent years due to the Brexit or coming to power of right-wing parties, and today the outbreak of corona and its economic effects can deepen these crises and differences.
As for the long-term consequences of the virus, attention should be paid to its scope, in other words, whether other countries will be dissatisfied with the EU’s performance, and if this trend continues, we may see another Brexit in the EU. At the moment, Italy is trying to replace Britain after London’s exit from the EU so it seems unlikely that it will consider a departure from the Union. But if the crisis deepens and the negative view to the European Union and its performance spreads, divergence may intensify and more countries may want to leave the EU. However, with the activation of the mechanisms envisaged in the EU structure, the delay in its action in the fight against the coronavirus will be compensated and the EU will continue to play its role in Europe and internationally.