Coronavirus reveals weakness of the EU – Polish Nobel prize winner

Tokarczuk said that closing the borders was the biggest failure in these difficult times. Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Fear of the virus has caused old egoisms to reappear in the EU, wrote Olga Tokarczuk, the Polish author who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature, in a text for the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Tuesday.

Tokarczuk wrote in an opinion piece for the newspaper that the EU had basically capitulated and left decision making in the hands of the nation states during a time of crisis.

The author said that closing the borders was the biggest failure in these difficult times. She added that "the old egoisms and categories of 'ours' and 'theirs,' which we fought against in the hope they never again affect our way of thinking, have returned."

Tokarczuk stated that there was a perception in Europe that the virus had arrived from "the outside," and, as she pointed out in her essay, all who had returned to Poland from abroad were viewed as suspects.

In the Nobel prize winner's opinion, the crisis will lead to new divisions: "Some of us will be able to fly our own private plane to our home on an island or to spend time alone in the forest. Others will remain in cities, to keep the power plants and waterworks running."

The COVID-19 pandemic "will probably invalidate the rules of the game that seemed so stable to us," Tokarczuk wrote. "Many countries will not be able to cope with the crisis and, after its liquidation, a new order will be created, as often happens after crises," she added.