Seventy-five years ago, Europe woke up to a new dawn. Until just a few hours before, the old continent was thrown into the burning furnace of total war. For nearly six years, European nations looked at neighbours with suspicion, even full-blown hatred, and World War II remains to this day the most devastating act of self-inflicted misery ever executed by humanity.
The spontaneous celebrations on Victory in Europe Day poured out onto streets and plazas from Place de l’Etoile to Times Square. Queen Elizabeth, Princess at the time, was even allowed to covertly join crowds on the streets of London and still counts the day among the “most memorable” in her eventful life.
Three-quarters of a century later, Europe finds itself at another historic moment. This time, the foe is a virus and neighbouring countries are working hand-in-hand thanks to the unique community of solidarity that arose from the ashes of that war. Nevertheless, the economic, social, and political repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak match those wreaked by bombing raids and mortar fire.
When the street parties of May 1945 fell quiet, a collective endeavour to turn victory into success began. An entire generation that had taught itself to destroy now faced an unprecedented reconstruction project and communities, institutions, and economies needed as much rebuilding as homes, cities, and factories.
Out of this horrible situation, the family of the European Union was born. Today, as Covid-19 ravages the world, the EU itself has emerged as a global leader in the research and development of a universally available vaccine. Substantial resources, both material and intangible, are being courageously allocated to find a cure for the disease in the shortest time possible. When that day comes, the whole world will rejoice together again.
In many ways, open collaboration and mutual support among EU states during the coronavirus crisis marks the highest achievement of the post-war efforts. As the world celebrates the signature of the instrument of surrender, we are reminded that the steps we take after the end of the emergency will be critical.
The triumph of a Covid-19 vaccine must find fulfilment in the creation of a more sustainable, resilient, and integrated Europe.
Nathanael Muscat – CiConsulta