Expert comment by Theofanis Exadaktylos, Reader in European Politics, University of Surrey, Co-editor, Journal of Common Market Studies Annual Review
The public health crisis caused by the novel coronavirus in the beginning of 2020 represented a new challenge for the EU, which has been experiencing turbulence for almost a decade. But despite the numbness of the first responses and the differences between EU countries, the pandemic has become a unique opportunity for pragmatic politics to showcase their potential over populist empty rhetoric. The EU leadership saw this opportunity and pushed ahead with more integration, providing a response that was driven by European citizens. Never before has the EU acted at such magnitude in the name of the Union’s peoples, propping up a wall of solidarity. Although it is still unsure whether this will be Europe’s watershed moment, it will definitely be a seminal moment that will determine the direction of European integration for at least a generation. Nonetheless, there is considerable room for establishing our European common fate, by taking the lead in areas of policy coordination, European-wide and transnational projects, an emphasis on sustainable development in conjunction with the European green agendas and a realistic view on the closing of social and national inequalities.