"Men occasionally stumble over the truth”, Churchill once opined, “but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened”. The Covid-19 pandemic is one of those moments when uncomfortable truths become impossible to avoid. The global financial crisis, the refugee crisis, and now Covid-19 all, in their own ways, left national governments exposed to existential threats. Through them, Europeans maintained a hope that they could develop co-operative, global solutions to help nation states to cope with these low-probability, high impact scenarios. But if previous crises were stumbles that allowed the EU to maintain its pleasant fictions, it will no longer be possible after this one. The pandemic has forced the European Union to confront the fact that the system which guarantees its security and prosperity is breaking.
Mark Leonard spent two months at the IWM during 2018 and 2019 as a Guest to work on his research.