Massive tests in South Korea that have saved the country from bad things and now enable parliamentary elections. In the United States, the coarse wooden coffins that are buried in mass graves on Hart Island. In France, the pictures of nurses wrapping themselves in garbage bags because they don’t have protective clothing.
The health and economic crisis not only causes suffering, it also provides a relentless system comparison. It is not just economists or doctors who employ it, but every citizen. “People are comparing what is happening in their own country and what others are doing more intensely than ever before,” says the French demoscope Brice Teinturier.
National risk premiums were at stake during the euro crisis. Today, completely different values count: how hard is the lockdown, how many intensive care beds and corona tests can a country mobilize? How many deaths are there? All of this is concentrated in the question: “Is my country protecting me?”
In many cases the answer is as surprising as it is bitter. China has refuted the assumption that authoritarian systems are more effective. At the same time, it has lost its international reputation through state lies. The United States looks agile, headless and unsound, to an extent that makes the EU seem like a haven of good cooperation.
In Europe, the numbers fluctuate too much to be sure which country can best cope with the crisis. But you can already see the high number of victims in Italy, Spain and France.
For many French people, far beyond the hard left, their German neighbors had become a hell of the precariat in recent years, a country where inequality triumphed.
Every citizen will ask for a settlement
Today one reads long analyzes that represent the German health system as exemplary. On the street, police officers ask: “Why is it that there are fewer deaths in Germany?”
It would be obscene – and premature – to throw yourself in the chest. But the question will remain. When the worst of the pandemic is behind us, every citizen will ask for a settlement: Why did South Korea and Taiwan get through so well, but richer countries like Italy or France didn’t? Much is due to health care.
Fortunately, advice from the Bertelsmann Stiftung was not implemented in Germany, which nine months ago pushed for “a sharp reduction in the number of hospitals from currently just under 1400 to well below 600”. In France, on the other hand, according to the Adenauer Foundation, the health system has been “dripping for years”.
A strong industry that steps in when ventilator supplies or tests fail to arrive from abroad is another factor of resilience. The ability of politics to quickly and effectively perform sovereign tasks, but also to ensure the supply of unusual goods in cooperation with private individuals, is also necessary.
But the criteria go further and also concern soft factors. Does everyone in society wait for orders from above, or is there the ability to self-organize when the top turns out to be incapable? How strong is the social consensus? Because it depends on whether companies can change direction quickly.
It goes up to social issues. Few older people were initially infected in Germany, which also has to do with the fact that German adolescents are refugees from their nests, while their peers in Spain or France often still live with their parents or even grandparents, obedient to the need for expensive rents – and infect them.
It is astonishing that the supposed kings are naked today. Not only China has embarrassed itself, the United States too. The global tech power is no more resilient than other countries. On the contrary. The US internet giants are useful, but have not significantly improved the situation.
Covid-19 is a trial run for other crises, such as the result of the climate catastrophe. The ability to resist them is a challenge for all states.
We will not have giant masks in stock, but will have to rebuild our economy so that essential goods can be manufactured here and production can be reversed at lightning speed.
In Europe, resilience only works together: not every country can be self-sufficient. European solidarity poses new questions. Financial aid to overcome the consequences of the crisis together is important.
In the future, however, each country will have to show what it contributes so that the EU as a whole can withstand. Fiscal rules are no longer enough. The EU needs a resilience pact that no member can avoid.
More: Read a summary of the Sars CoV-2 events worldwide.