(B2) Until a while ago, Europeans had their 'core business' : humanitarian aid. In a way, Europe held a monopoly: that of generosity. As a result of the coronavirus epidemic, it lost this faculty, on its own territory... It was China that took over.
Help from the Chinese Red Cross
Ironically, it was on board a China Eastern Airbus A350, chartered by the (Chinese) National Health Commission and the Chinese Red Cross, that a Chinese medical team landed on Thursday evening at the Rome Fiumicino airport. Objective: to help Italy contain the new coronavirus epidemic. This is not a first. This is the third team of experts sent abroad by the Chinese authorities. Two teams were sent, one to Iran, the other to Iraq.
A team of Coronavirus specialists
On board, a medical team of nine members, six men and three women led by the vice-president of the Chinese Red Cross, Sun Shuopeng. Resuscitators - including the renowned professor of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Liang Zongan -, pediatricians, nurses and personalities, very aware of the coronavirus emergency. Because they managed the epidemic in China. The plane was also carrying according to the Italian Red Cross, several tons of medical equipment and supplies, including ventilators, monitors and defibrillators, to set up 30 units of intensive care equipment, and tens of thousands of masks and other medical devices.
Cooperation between Rome and Beijing strengthened
Luigi Di Maio, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in person, made a point of thanking, during a press conference, the Chinese aid and the cooperation being developed. " Tonight, Italy is not alone. Many people around the world support us »
Eccoci dalla sede della Croce Rossa Italiana insieme al team di medici cinesi arrival ieri per sostenere i nostri medici e operatori sanitari. Collegatevi in diretta.
Posted by Luigi Di Maio on Friday, 13. March 2020
(Updated) No EU aid
If the civil protection mechanism was indeed activated on February 26 at the request of Italy, it seems that Rome received nothing. B2 has confirmed this. The European commissioner in charge of crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, launched an appeal during the exceptional council of health ministers, on March 6, to “ work in a spirit of cooperation ". EU mechanisms aimed at to support Member States depend on solidarity he admitted a little annoyed, faced with the lack of answers.
... an answer in the making
Germany which had blocked (like France) any export of masks outside the country “ prepares to supply a significant quantity of masks to Italy ” assured B2 a spokesperson for the Commission (one million masks specified Sonya Gospodinova, the spokesperson for Commissioner Th. Breton in charge of the internal market). In addition to the civil protection mechanism, there is another way for Italy to obtain more protective equipment, namely joint purchases ". The Commission has decided expedite the joint procurement process for protective equipment [...] to minimize possible shortages ».
Commentary: a losing battle
Europe has just lost a battle on its own territory and its normally reserved domain: humanitarian aid and solidarity between Member States. As with Greece ten years ago, when it was reduced to begging for help from the International Monetary Fund, one of its most powerful states is now reduced to begging for foreign aid, not receiving enough domestic help. The ardent thanks to the Chinese help does not seem pure courtesy. This should leave traces. The new Silk Road, with a politico-economic aim, finds its justification here. And the Europeans, weakened, let it happen.
Updated March 16 at 12:30 p.m.