Over three days and two nights of teleconference, the finance ministers of the Eurozone fumbled their way towards an emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic. No comments were recorded, no minutes taken; the Eurogroup, an ‘informal’ body headed by a president known as Mr Euro, isn’t obliged to disclose the details of its internal discussions. Still, we know that last week’s marathon meeting followed a familiar script. The PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain) aimed high with a demand that the Eurozone share the burden of the crisis with a jointly issued debt instrument known as a coronabond. The FANGs (Finland, Austria, Netherlands, Germany) beat them back down, proposing that each member of the currency union bear its debts alone. And Mário Centeno, the Portuguese finance minister and current Mr Euro, brokered a late night compromise. ‘At the end of the day, or should I say, at the end of the third day,’ he announced, ‘what matters the most is that we rose to the challenge.’
To say that von der Leyen was ‘nominated’ by the Council and then ‘elected’ by the Parliament is a stretch. It may be more accurate to say the EU’s new leaders were ‘coronated’, much like after a papal conclave. They weren’t put to a public test, but selected in an atmosphere of intergovernmental informality.