The world is facing economic uncertainty in the coming months and years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many governments have already approved large spending packages in an attempt to off-set the huge financial deficit the pandemic is causing.
As a member of the EU, Ireland along with other EU countries are now facing the question as to whether to share the burden of these hefty loans with their neighbours or to go at it alone when it comes to paying these deficits back.
Countries are torn and divided. Nine EU countries led by Italy, Spain and France (including Ireland) have proposed a joint bond solution which would result in the debts being shared equally among countries. The proceeds of these bonds would be spread among the countries who most need it.
These coronabonds are intended to show unity in a time of crisis. A time where countries such as Italy are suffering immensely and need extra help.
Germany, arguably the EU’s strongest member, along with Austria, Finland and the Netherlands shot down the proposal of ‘coronabonds’ due to the massive restructuring it requires. They are not willing to help countries they believe were less prepared for troubled times.
However everyone was unprepared, some more than others. We were never expecting a deadly virus to swoop across nations, taking out those most vulnerable. But we, like everyone else, are trying and the only way we’ll get through this is to work together.
When Ireland joined the EEC in 1973 it was a commitment to work together. Now we all share the same risk and no country should have to carry that burden alone.
Spain’s foreign minister Arancha González tweeted that EU member states were all in the “same boat” and had “hit an unexpected iceberg”. He said now was not the time for discussions about who gets first and second class tickets.
Some countries may be financially able to weather the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic but most will need help. It’s at times like this when we look to each other to get us through.
“What worries me is the illness of every man for himself,” said French president Emmanuel Macron in an interview with Italian media earlier this month, “I do not want this selfish and divided Europe”.
Critics of the EU will point to these disagreements as evidence of the EU’s weakness in moments of insecurity. If the EU are to maintain the same level of respect they currently carry, during this pandemic solidarity between member states is crucial.
It is human nature to question others and the issue of coronabonds is not the first nor will it be the last issue that will divide EU member countries.
However, the EU is supposed to be a partnership, a marriage, for better or worse. In a marriage, there’s always a higher earner, a more organised half but you carry each other.
If EU member states are not willing to help each other in times of need then what’s the point?
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