How EU is exposing West’s weakness after G7 as Biden meets Putin – Bernard Ingham
Could it be that historians will say that millions did not die in vain?
Given the state of the planet, I can hear some of you saying that even by posing the question I have at last lost all my marbles.
But consider the one billion or so Covid vaccines pledged to the world by last weekend’s G7 summit in Cornwall.
It was made without strings or thought of reward other than improved relations with the recipient countries.
It was, of course, not without self-interest in the sense that a mobile world cannot return to “normal” while the pandemic rages unchecked in the poorer countries.
If we are truly to be open for business, we need the world to be vaccinated.
It is also true that with a global population of seven billion, a mere one billion doses will leave the job far from done.
But it is a start and the free world’s openness contrasts sharply with Chinese secrecy over the source of the outbreak and its tardiness in alerting other nations to the peril as it tries to colonise the weak and needy.
It is about time that the West countered China’s stealth in trying to extend its range, power and influence.
It rose to the challenge in Cornwall.
Under Boris Johnson’s leadership, please note, the summit proclaimed its commitment to democracy, freedom, equality, rule of law and respect for human rights.
And to show it meant business, it aimed at getting 40m more girls into education.
Xi Jinping in Beijing and Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin will not be best pleased by our PM’s handiwork.
A re-assertive West is just what the diplomatic doctor ordered.
And so the richest countries in the world go into bat first with vaccines and then the protection of open societies, trading freely and fairly.
Of course, pledges come easily to some people that I could mention and it will be some time before we can throw our caps over the windmill about Boris’s resurgent West as President Joe Biden prepares to meet Putin today in Geneva. Its leaders must not disappoint. Too much is riding on their response.
This is where we must honestly face up to weakness in the West. It lies at the heart of Europe. Its great project – a federal United States of Europe – has manifestly failed the people over the pandemic.
The concept of solidarity, weakened by immigration, went to the wall over Brussels’ abject failure over vaccination doses.
That failure stemmed from an unelected bureaucracy unresponsive to people’s even dire needs. The elected leaders of constituent nations acted unilaterally, some even taking in Russian and Chinese vaccines.
Although the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, attended the summit, polls show she could not speak for her native Germany, France, Italy, Spain or Austria.
In each case a majority – yes, more than 50 per cent– think the EU, as presently conceived, is “kaput”.
Perhaps that is why French president, Emmanuel Macron, is being beastly again to the Brits over the Northern Ireland protocol in the Brexit agreement.
He thinks it will warm his countrymen to his (sham) federalism. When did France last act against its best interests for the common good?
The plain fact is that the interference in British trade with Northern Ireland is not on.
It never was. Can anyone seriously imagine that France would agree to the isolation of Corsica, Italy of Sardinia, Greece of any of its untold islands or Sweden of Gotland in the Baltic?
Of course, not.
It is a fundamental interference in the affairs of a sovereign state and will have to end, even if Boris felt, in signing the Brexit treaty, he could finesse the Northern Ireland situation. Instead, the Euro-fanatics weaponised the border with the Republic.
But if things are so dire and fractured on the Continent, how on earth can I pretend that perhaps we are seeing the first glimmers of a new dawn in the West?
The answer is quite simple: Covid has exposed the pretensions of the federal European project for all to see as well as generating an international move to control Covid-19 and guard against future pandemics.
It should be the first step in a rethink of the EU to provide for a free association of co-operating sovereign states.
Margaret Thatcher advocated that in Bruges in 1988. The world – and especially the free world – will be stronger if Covid has at last made people see sense.
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