In Depth

Instant Opinion: EU ‘will be destroyed by handling of coronavirus crisis’

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 2 April

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Andrea Mammone in The Independent

on the future of the EU

The European Union will be destroyed by its immoral handling of the coronavirus crisis

“The debate on the future of the EU will soon become central to European politics. Germany and others overlook that the European community was built to prevent economic nationalism and conflicts. The ignored question is how the coronavirus crisis will change our societies and priorities – and, inevitably, the shape of the EU. Many citizens will pay a huge price because of coronavirus and public opinion in some member states will not easily forget any further austerity or lack of help. This process is fuelling the far-right nationalist vote and leading to rising Euroscepticism.”

2. Sherelle Jacobs in The Telegraph

on a government in chaos

Britain has traded individual liberty for a terrifying state omnishambles

“This isn’t the deal we bargained for when we acquiesced in the shutdown of the economy and mass house arrest: individual sacrifice in return for collective shambles. In a way, the lack of pushback against lockdown has been remarkable. Perhaps our love of liberty has been bludgeoned by human rights culture, our confidence to question punctured by elite snobbery over who is allowed to comment on scientific debate. Still, suspicion is rising that we have been duped into accepting the unacceptable. After allowing crisis to spiral into chaos, No 10 seems too ensnared in strategic confusion, managerial dysfunction – and, intriguingly, a nannying moralism – to engineer even the most blunderous exit route.”

3. Ara Darzi in The Guardian

on finding a coronavirus cure

The race to find a coronavirus vaccine has one major obstacle: big pharma

“The best way to identify candidate drugs is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to crunch huge quantities of data to find the ones that might work. Major AI companies are putting their immense computing power at the service of scientists engaged in this hunt. But they are being hampered: because some pharmaceutical companies are failing to share all of the data on potential candidate treatments that they hold. Like toilet roll profiteers, they are keeping it stashed in their digital attics and cellars where others cannot get at it, on the grounds that it is commercially confidential.”

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4. Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times

on geopolitical disorder

Coronavirus reveals the dread of a ‘non-polar’ world

“The US can afford two squabbling parties. It cannot afford two different accounts of the truth. The discrepant seriousness with which Red and Blue America have taken the virus outbreak is not just a domestic problem. It compromises Washington’s ability to lead any other nation. For all his diplomatic grounding, a President Joe Biden — the Democrat is polling well against Mr Trump — would face the same constraint. A nation’s leadership abroad is not somehow removed from its internal coherence. But then nor has this been the Chinese Moment either. Beijing has squandered credibility through its lack of candour. International recriminations as to the origins of the virus have only just begun. As for Europe, its response to the pandemic now spans British vacillation and Hungarian autocracy. It has thrown up no version of Gordon Brown (the then UK prime minister) during the crash of 2008: no leader with the nous and political grip to maximise their nation’s middling clout. At EU-level, we are back to the eternal question of whether ‘ever closer union’ is to include common public debt.”

5. Joe Lockhart for CNN

on playing politics with a crisis

Trump’s Covid-19 reelection strategy

“Clearly the president is concerned about how the pandemic will affect his reelection chances. After all, November is just seven months away. His hope, now described as an ‘aspiration’, last week to open the country by Easter may have been driven by polls showing high anxiety over the economy. But polls also consistently show that most Americans are worried about the public health aspect of the crisis. The president’s climb down can be traced in large part to what the polls were telling him. All of this confirms that while the president was slow off the mark to respond to the pandemic, he was always working off a political plan that had his reelection as the top priority. In January and February his administration didn’t see a political benefit in getting out ahead of this. In late March as the cases grew, that changed. But judging from his actions, it’s still politics and reelection that are largely driving his response.”

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