The coronavirus pandemic only highlighted what should have been obvious for some time: The European Union is severely ill and it can either accept its imminent demise or start afresh based on a decentralized union of national will.
The European Union as a self-standing power is losing. Ever since it was established a good few decades ago, it has been best at one thing, which has been obfuscating, belittling or outright ignoring the symptoms of its internal illness, which have been increasingly obvious over time.
One of the chief symptoms of this illness is Europe’s handicap in all high-tech industries. IT, space technology, telecommunications, and other cutting-edge domains which are run by American and Asian nations and multinationals.
True, some European industries still manage to hold their own, but many are increasingly vulnerable to the rest of the world in terms of raw materials, energy and critical components.
The second biggest handicap is that of the defense industry. Yes, French. German and Italian arms manufacturers still make some pretty weapons systems. Alas, these are all conventional weapons whose importance is diminishing, and the deficit in modern weapons, including long- and medium-range missiles, stealth technology, space-based weapons, is glaring.
There is also an obvious lack of human resources in all major European armies.
Part of this is due to the lack of new recruits for the continent’s armed forces, law enforcement and secret services, as the current mainstream opinion considers these jobs only fit for individuals with retrograde thinking.
During a time when Europe ignored developing its military capabilities — due to complacency induced by NATO and U.S. support from within the defense group — Russia, with an economy barely larger than that of Italy, has managed to reacquire its status as a global power.
We keep hearing from “experts” that says armies are a thing of the past, and we don’t really need them. But when disaster does strike, the only available transportation, organizational capacity and protective equipment comes from these armies. So-called “European solidarity” also appears to evaporate at the first sign of trouble, as the coronavirus has demonstrated, highlighting how essential national armed forces truly are.
Once the current crisis is over, we must earnestly revisit these issues, as we only have two choices: Europe can either continue down its slope to disaster, or recover at least some of its might with the help of national vitality.
Title image: Staff prepare for the arrival of coronavirus cases at the Korányi hospital in Budapest. (MTI/Zoltán Balogh)