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Will the shared experience bring nations closer together, or make national identity stronger than ever before?
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The shared trauma will create affinity between nations
As each member state goes through the same difficult journey of combating the virus, EU group identity grows stronger.
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As the coronavirus started spreading around the globe, the EU and its member states started to be severely touched by the pandemic around March and started national lockdowns that lasted well over two months in most countries. This phase has caused socio-economic distress and tests the crisis response capabilities of all EU member states and its institutions.
When most European countries went into national lockdowns in Mid-March, horrifying pictures of overcharged hospitals, empty streets and death spread around Europe. A common social trauma of being overrun by the pandemic due to a late reaction by the authorities is shared amongst many Europeans which will eventually strengthen the bonds of Europe and its identity. Despite borders between many European nations being shut, solidarity amongst member states and their citizens is quite remarkable. On an institutional level, the European Commission tried to unify the member states around a unified response that is advancing despite political tensions. On a more civil level, cooperation has been seen between member states in treating corona patients, for instance when French COVID-19 patients in the bordering regions were transferred to German hospitals because the local capacities had been saturated. Furthermore, a recent poll conducted by the European Council on Foreign relations has found that the COVID-19 crisis has increased the attachment of Europeans to the EU as they realised the need for European cooperation in crisis management. The researchers compare this trauma to the shared trauma of WWII that pushed for the creation of the EU in the first place. Even though COVID-19 has not been nearly as deadly, the unifying character is similar.
1) EU identity will only be more fractured coming out of the COVID-crisis as socio-economic inequalities rise between member states. 2) The COVID responses of the member states were not coordinated enough and created chaos rather than unity. 3) The establishment of borders between Schengen countries of the EU is the opposite of identity fostering.
European identity evolves mainly through shared experiences and trauma.
[P1] Common experiences help to shape unity in a group. [P2] Shared trauma creates a shared identity.
Rejecting the premises
[P1] Common experiences do not necessarily impact the felt unity of a group. [P2] Shared trauma creates more cleavages than common identity.