Opinion – Coronavirus: Beyond Europe’s North-South Divide
As the coronavirus crisis unfolds, many European policy-makers and political observers have resorted to the traditional north-south divide and its related vocabulary to frame EU member states’ disagreements. Following the virtual European Council held in late March, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte highlighted differences of opinion between “a number of more northern and a number of southern countries along the known dividing lines”. Similarly, in a short op-ed the former European Commissioner and Prime Minister of Italy Mario Monti framed the debate on EU coronavirus response by depicting two geographical camps divided by profound issues. “Europe is divided and it’s north versus south, as in the 2012 financial crisis.” In Monti’s view, only understanding the other’s ideas and positions and avoiding stigmatisation in national debates can overcome this geographical divide.