Luuk van Middelaar
In February 2020, Covid-19 began its inexorable spread across Europe. The long-feared global pandemic ran amok as the world’s wealthiest, but woefully unprepared, medical system struggled to cope with the sheer scale of the emergency. EU member states chaotically shut their borders and scrambled for supplies instead of cooperating and helping each other. The European Union suddenly appeared irrelevant as it fell silent and public bitterness and despair took hold, while governments flailed and the death toll mounted. And yet, once shaken from its torpor, the EU did act with financial assistance and in coordinating a response to the chaos.
The last decade has seen the EU beset by crisis: the eurozone storm, the refugee tragedy and the Brexit debacle. The pandemic presented yet another threat to its existence. Luuk Van Middelaar’s incisive analysis of Europe’s resilience demonstrates just how far the EU has come in its development from a regulatory body to a political entity and how it has been shaped by the politics of crisis. If the EU is to thrive and to protect its citizens, it must learn now to be a geopolitical actor and anticipate the action rather than simply react to it.
Prologue 1. Panic: the experience of crisis 2. Metamorphosis: from market regulator to event manager Intermezzo 3. Pandemonium: a chronicle of a haphazard response 4. Dramaturgy: features of political union 5. Geopolitics: between China’s mask diplomacy and US bleach prescriptions Epilogue
Luuk van Middelaar is a historian and political theorist. In his role as a speechwriter and close advisor to the president of the European Council (2010–15), van Middelaar witnessed the political theatre of Europe from the front row. He is currently a professor at the Europa Institute of Leiden University. His previous book, The Passage to Europe (winner of the 2012 European Book Prize) has been translated into more than ten languages. He was advisor to the acclaimed BBC programme, Inside Europe: Ten Years of Turmoil (2019).