The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 – or, more precisely, the necessary measures taken thus far to contain the spread of the COVID-19 illness caused by that virus – are triggering what is likely to be the worst global economic crisis since World War II.
As a humanitarian crisis, it is seen in Europe as a catastrophe. Although we feel for all the casualties here, the scope of this tragedy is not comparable with some human-made disasters. Think of the bloody toll of the already 10-year-long war in Syria or the genocides in the 1990s in Eastern Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. However, we must also think of those who are particularly endangered by the coronavirus due to other health problems they have. In certain countries, capacities for treatment are already limited. This situation creates an important ethical responsibility.
In other terms, however, the pandemic is a wake-up call globally and for Europe. The crisis will have far-reaching consequences. It will be used in constructive and in harmful ways by decision- and policymakers. It is not a moment too early to start thinking through the consequences of the policies proposed today and preparing for the times after the disease.
Countries are discovering how weak they have become. Many of the crippling deficiencies are attributable to the lack of courage and determination on the side of political leaders, and also the public in general. Governments have failed to address the obvious problems: oversized public administration, overregulation, opaque tax systems, inefficient social assistance and healthcare organization, excessive public debt, faulty integration projects, and more. These problems will hopefully be addressed, but the remedies may bring vastly different results – the success will depend on the soundness of the diagnosis and the cure prescribed.
We will hear divergent proposals. Centralists and principalists of all shapes and sizes will call for more state intervention, and control. The pragmatists, while appreciating the role of government in supporting the economy and society, will go in the direction of more subsidiarity and freedom of choice.
We should not shy from this debate. Geopolitical Intelligence Services will publish a series of reports – not on the health crisis per se, but its consequences for the economy, geopolitics, society and personal freedom.
Prince Michael of Liechtenstein
Chairman and Founder