There is no doubt that the Coronavirus outbreak is testing the ability of the EU in managing the crisis by its effectiveness and resistance of solidarity networks among the member states. When the union came across any crises throughout its historical development, it has somehow accomplished turning them into opportunities for further integration so far. But this time, the pandemic has an unprecedented importance beyond all the crises ever: It can make it either weaken or strengthen.

Regarding the opinion on whether the European Union will come across with the threat of collapsing in the near future, a pretty adverse view, on one side, is asserted as the Covid-19 outbreak has undoubtedly caught the union off-guard while it has already been suffering from several problems such as migration issues and rights movements’ rising disagreement within the union as well as the ongoing debates on Brexit. Nevertheless, a deeper crisis reveals itself more visibly among the members by a small but pretty catastrophic virus: the matter of solidarity! That is why, a further point of view is drawn within the framework of such an unprecedented crisis, might let the union be reborn from its ashes or reinforced by an arisen common mind of its member states as a result of a good example of solidarity.


In order to get out of the crisis stronger, the principle of solidarity should become more effective by supporting countries in difficult conditions. Financial support needs to be coordinated across the region, in particular, to ensure access to health equipment as well as to support the business world against economic recession and to protect laborers and earnings within the member countries. In other words, there is a requirement to establish a recovery fund and coordinate fiscal policies that some developed member states such as Germany have avoided so far. Otherwise, trying to overcome this crisis with national resources and the deteriorating situation of countries such as Italy and Spain, which are more affected by the pandemic, will lead to a decrease in faith and trust toward the union. Eventually, it is likely to get a potential result that the European Union gradually loses its meaning. However, is there any example to see a true solidarity pattern among the member states in the history? It is a well known fact that solidarity has almost never been a benchmark of the EU since its foundation, rather the pillars on which the union rises have been mostly economy, partly shared norms and common history. Unsurprisingly, its inability to react immediately and strongly as a union in the early days of the pandemic, derives from the fact that states turned into their own borders to struggle with the virus by themselves within the bounds of their own potential. States’ main aim was to be able to protect their own field. States called their citizens across the world and closed their borders to be able to protect their own garden and prevent spreading. By doing so, undoubtedly, the Schengen region completely lost its operational and functional identity during this process. More dramatically, as the pandemic spread across Europe, what we witnessed was ‘the war of the masks’ that occurred as a result of lack of medical equipment and accusations of hijacking each other’s orders in the early days of the crisis. Another point to be considered is the bureaucratic structure that is quite hard to mobilise, and that the powers and resources transferred by the member states to the union is mostly restricted. Speaking of such a transnational structure that includes well-functioning economies in its body, it is also necessary to see that it is actually quite resource-poor and weak, when the comparison is made among its member states that have varying sizes in economies. Similarly, when compared with the leaderships of Germany or France, the charisma of the people at the head of the union’s commissions is very limited in the efficiency of the decision-making mechanism within the EU. Despite its transnational structure, the fact should be regarded that the EU is actually rising or falling on the backs of its member states, that is, its ability to meet all expectations depends on exactly what member states do. However, when a crisis is encountered, -as it has been seen during the pandemic- member states fall into their own troubles and throw the union’s spirit aside. This might obviously cause the EU to get into a coffin.


Mask-wars, border closures, bureaucratic structures, and more notably lack of solidarity do not seem enough to put a claim that the idea of “unity” will collapse so rapidly. In contrast, it might be considered as a quite natural reaction that states who faced such a fast spreading and human life-threatening crisis give priority to protect their citizens by closing the borders as an initial reaction instead of helping each other. In addition, when criticizing the inadequacy of solidarity among the European states, there is an issue that is often ignored; although the member countries can follow common policies mostly in economic and partly in political areas, there is no common policy implementation in the healthcare system. In other words, there is no decision-making mechanism to work on common healthcare policies. This factor reasonably explains why each state turned within, by closing their borders in case of a health crisis. From this point of view, it is inevitable that discussions on common health policies are likely to be brought to the union’s agenda in the coming days.


As an additional note considering the recently occurred gap in the international political system, and the growing struggle between the U.S. and China, a disintegration in the EU might trigger a further power vacuum. It is essential to see a stronger EU for the balance in world politics. That is why, the member states are supposed to fix their unwinding ties as soon as possible, which is important to sustain the existing international system. Otherwise, it is possible to see a stronger China in the absence of a world leader these days, soon changing the balance of powers in the new international system, which might not be welcomed by the European States. The EU is most likely to re-think on which vision it will be built up and what its basic political plan will be for the member states this time. What they need is a good political vision, rather than seeking social solidarity, to regain their core meaning.