Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

European Affairs minister Amelie de Montchalin arrives at a meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on Feb. 25, 2020.

POOL New/AFP/Getty Images

How the European Union responds to the coronavirus outbreak will determine its future credibility, a French minister said on Sunday, after the bloc failed to agree last week on measures to cushion the economic blow.

The EU is struggling for a co-ordinated response to the coronavirus, the latest test of the bloc’s solidarity after it was shaken by Brexit, the 2015-2016 migration wave and the euro zone debt crisis.

“If Europe is just a single market when times are good, then it has no sense,” European Affairs minister Amelie de Montchalin told France Inter radio.

Story continues below advertisement

The bloc’s divisions were laid bare after leaders hit an impasse on Thursday over how to minimize the economic pain and prepare for an eventual recovery, with the ailing south incensed by the resistance of the richer north to offer more support.

Germany and the Netherlands came out strongly against a push by Italy, Spain, Portugal and France to issue joint bonds to help finance an economic stimulus. There were also squabbles over the sharing of medical equipment and border controls.

In Austria, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz fumed at double-standards within the bloc after his country was slowed in efforts to secure face masks from Germany while other capitals criticized Vienna’s own controls on the Italian border.

“After the crisis is over, there will have to be tough discussions within the EU,” Kurz told the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

De Montchalin said there would be no economic rebound in Germany and the Netherlands if the rest of Europe remained sick. The coronavirus crisis raised existential questions for Europe, she added.

“Our Europe is one of action, one of solidarity, and if certain countries see otherwise, well then the question of their place will raise itself, as will what the union should be doing as a group of 27,” said de Montchalin.

However, she cited the decision by Germany and others to take in critically ill French coronavirus patients and relieve pressure on France’s health care system as proof that solidarity between member states persisted.

Story continues below advertisement

Europe’s populist parties would be the winners if EU leaders failed to act together during a major crisis, she said.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies