Coronavirus pandemic is a make or break moment for the EU

Press quote (Financial Times)
Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska
26 March 2020

“The EU’s hands are pretty much tied in the area of public health”, says Agata Gostyńska-Jakubowska, senior research fellow at the Centre for European Reform in Brussels. ...Instead, with each state deciding to impose border controls in an uncoordinated way, “they created more problems than they solved”, says Ms Gostyńska-Jakubowska, citing long border queues increasing infection risk and making it harder for countries to repatriate their citizens. She adds that “an uncoordinated approach puts the whole single market in danger”. 

...If the EU communicates what it can and cannot do well, says Ms Gostyńska-Jakubowska, “the public will soon realise that no member state can deal with a pandemic this size of its own”.There are signs that the EU is upping its game. “The EU has made quite a few mistakes but it’s stepping up and learning pretty fast from the mistakes it has made,” Ms Gostyńska-Jakubowska believes. For example, “the EU cannot tell countries how to organise their health systems, but it can co-ordinate purchases of medical equipment and has started to do so”.

...Ms Gostyńska-Jakubowska thinks discussions around a common “coronabond” could be a “make or break moment” for trust within the eurozone. She also argues that “a fundamental role will be played again by the president of the European Council . . . when member states at some point decide to relax border checks. We have to think about an exit strategy. Uncoordinated action again could bring us back to square one”.