The stand-off with Poland continues and doesn’t seem likely to go away soon. Both sides have been blustering in the constitutional conflict, and while the Polish court ruling that EU law is subservient may seem like a stroke of genius, the truth of the matter is that most Poles want to stay in Europe as defined by the borders of the European Union. Which could weigh heavily against the governing populists.
But the real issue in Europe this past week is the resurgence of Covid. Rates are climbing steadily across the continent, especially in Eastern Europe and the UK.
The response to the higher risk of infection as travellers cross national borders has so far been muted. Fully-vaccinated travellers, in general, are still more or less free to travel throughout the European Union, whereas the non-vaccinated are now facing much higher hurdles.
During earlier waves of infection individual countries set their own rules and restrictions, paying little heed to what Brussels had to say.
This time the Union is hoping for more cohesion. In a statement on Friday, October 22, the European Council said:
“EU leaders noted that vaccination campaigns around Europe have brought about significant progress in the fight against COVID-19. Nevertheless, the situation in some member states remains very serious. Leaders called for efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy to be stepped up, including by tackling disinformation, notably on social media,” adding: “The European Council called for further coordination to facilitate free movement within the EU and travel into it. It encouraged the Commission to accelerate its work with third countries on the mutual recognition of certificates.”
The strategy of keeping borders open is clearly designed to prevent more economic disruption within the EU, but, if it’s successful, will be of immense help to former member the UK to membership-hopeful Ukraine.
Whether the EU’s centralised strategy will work or not is the big question.
FILE PHOTO: The Berlaymont EU headquarters in Brussels