Whether it is through a carbon tax, the Macron-Merkel plan etc., such an unprecedented push towards the EU was unthinkable before the crisis. The European Union was, at its roots, a project of globalisation. Now, the fear of de-globalisation and of a fading international relevance are key incentives for a strengthening of Europe.
You wrote "While the Covid-19 crisis has unleashed the political imagination of the public, it has paradoxically paralysed the political imagination of the elite". What do you imagine will be the legacy of this crisis for the EU but even more largely for our globalised society?
It is my firm belief that this crisis can be considered a turning point. There are two strong trends that can be highlighted. First, after being exiled in an apartment, citizens long for normality. At the same time, the crisis transformed the idea of what is possible or impossible. For a climate activist, seeing planes stuck on the ground for two months is a proof of new possibilities to decrease carbon emissions. In the same way, for nationalists advocating for strengthened border control, the crisis demonstrated its feasibility.
A green conservatism consensus could therefore emerge from the pandemic. However, even if the EU changes its policy in a radical way this shift will not come overnight. For a greener society, the EU should implement a very high tax on products harmful to the environment. The pandemic demonstrated that border closure is feasible, but will it make countries stronger ? It can be done for not more than two or three months, before the economy suffers. The crisis proved that the impossible can become possible, but that this new possibility also comes with constraints.
Overall, this unprecedented crisis freed the public imagination. The world will be deeply transformed but the directions of this change are yet to be determined.
With the collaboration of Margaux Tellier.
Copyright: Oli SCARFF / AFP