With the ongoing havoc due to COVID-19 over the world and the rapid increase in cases across the European continent, the EU officials have taken drastic steps to slow the spread of the disease. It has closed its borders to non-residents for at least 30 days. The European Central Bank has taken a string of measures to stem an economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus epidemic, which included a €750 billion asset-purchase program. Leaders in Brussels will also begin collecting medical supplies for a common reserve to be redistributed to the member states that need it most.
Mai’a Cross is a professor of Political Science at Edward W. Brooke and associate professor of political science and international affairs at Northeastern University. She firmly believes that leaders have a few more mechanisms at their disposal to serve in order to unify EU member states and ease the flow of goods and services. EU’s financial measures are similar to those enacted during the Eurozone crisis a decade ago. Even though they have vastly different origins, the economic crisis of the EU is similar to the early stages of the Eurozone crisis, which started in 2009, when several EU member states were unable to repay or refinance their government debt without help from the European Central Bank or the International Monetary Fund. Thus, the EU created the European Financial Stabilization Mechanism, a system with a capacity to provide up to €500 billion to member states in economic need.
According to Cross, the EU could enact the solidarity clause of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the international agreement that forms the constitutional basis of the EU. It allows joint EU and member state response in the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or man-made disaster. It’s evolved to include epidemics and pandemics as well and has never been used.
“Because the clause has never been invoked, it’s not entirely clear what it might entail. The member states and the EU would have to infuse it with meaning,” Cross says.
Shahjadi Jemim Rahman