27 March 2020

The EU’s response to coronavirus is as hollow as the project itself


This week we launched the Centre for Brexit Policy, a new think tank focusing on identifying, researching and developing the thinking and policies needed to take maximum advantage of Brexit.

This is a vital new contribution to the think tank landscape and the CBP will be a great asset to government as they steer the course to a bright and prosperous post Brexit future,  assuming of course, that the government listen.

Of course the CBP will also keep a weather eye on the forces pushing to rejoin and remain in the EU and be ready to research and rebut any backsliding from the Brexit people voted for.

All of this is, to coin a phrase, in spite of coronavirus which has naturally slowed down our activity somewhat.

Never ones to miss an opportunity, the ‘rejoiners’ are calling for a long extension to the transition period.

The irony is that the virus has disrupted the EU project and its Napoleonic rules by forcing measures that would normally be prohibited for member states. For example state aid measures are now deemed acceptable – though of course that was actually already the case when it came to the unfair competition scam which is Germany’s KFW state-backed business bank.

Then there is control of borders and the instant collapse of the Schengen zone. Not to mention the relaxation of the EU’s anti-science, anti-innovation precautionary principle so that we can more rapidly produce drugs, tests, equipment and vaccines. None of these would normally be permitted and yet have been deemed beneficial in the context of Covid-19, as they are indeed beneficial to the economy and people of a sovereign state.

The response of the EU has been as hollow as the project itself. All the major decisions have been taken by member states and Brussels has only served to confuse and get in the way. The response of the ECB and the Eurozone has been too little, too late and when members asked for help from Brussels it has not been forthcoming. The Eurozone economy is in a perilous state and bad debt is everywhere. We must ensure we distance ourselves and emerge with a strong economy. We cannot have an economic cure for the virus that is worse than the disease itself.

Over the coming months the CBP has a major role to play through our fellows, in helping navigate unprecedented times and policy challenges, highlighting the opportunities and evidence-based choices while at the same time taking apart the claims of a self-serving EU establishment and their cheerleaders at home.

Click here to subscribe to our daily briefing – the best pieces from CapX and across the web.

CapX depends on the generosity of its readers. If you value what we do, please consider making a donation.

John Longworth is Director if the Centre for Brexit Policy, an entrepreneur and was formerly Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce and a Conservative MEP.

Columns are the author's own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of CapX.