Only the U.S. Can Guarantee the Survival of the European Union

Covid-19 has caused tectonic disturbances that will inevitably affect the international order. The devastating pandemic has plunged the EU into the worst crisis since World War II, and urgent consolidation, reorganization, enormous effort and a joint response to the global catastrophe are needed to overcome it. The production and procurement of vaccines, on the one hand, and its distribution on the other, reflected the strength and influence of countries on the international stage, in a way that the United States, Britain, China and Russia proved to be the most important global actors while the EU remained mostly sidelined.

Not even a year after the coronavirus pandemic, there are no answers to many questions. Where and how did the virus originate, is it artificial or natural? How and why did the U.S. and EU intelligence services fail to anticipate this crisis? What is indisputable and evident is that the whole world was completely unprepared and disorganized for what followed. The pandemic has shown how vulnerable international institutions are. Even societies that have contributed to industrialization and the incredible development of science and technology have shown an insufficient ability to cope with global change. The crisis with vaccines has brought to the surface all the shortcomings of the EU institutions. The pandemic made the EU politically very vulnerable, which led to the loss of its so-called "soft powers."

Serbia Covid pandemic European Union
Why the EU should embrace the Balkans. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic holds a vial containing the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine during his visit to Belgrade's Torlak Institute, where the vaccine has been manufactured, on April 15, 2021. - ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images

Unlike EU countries, Serbia reacted on time. Thanks to a skilful and smart politics, great engagement and personal contacts, President Vučić managed to provide sufficient quantities of vaccines, which enabled Serbia to carry out vaccination quickly and efficiently. This put Serbia among the best countries in the world in terms of vaccinated citizens. The president of Serbia showed great solidarity with his neighbors by donating the necessary dose of vaccines to them and enabling foreign citizens to be vaccinated in Serbia. All this has led to the most reputable media in the world writing and reporting affirmatively on the success of Serbia.

Economic reforms, infrastructure projects, foreign direct investment inflows, GDP growth, good neighborly relations, peacekeeping and partnership and cooperation with the most developed and powerful countries in recent years testify that Serbia is a key country and a factor of stability and prosperity in the region. Another example of successful leadership in the region is "Mini-Schengen," the most important project since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, initiated by the president of Serbia and activated by signing an agreement between the leaders of Serbia, Albania and Macedonia on October 10, 2019, in Novi Sad.

The invitation to join "Mini-Schengen" was sent to Montenegro, Kosovo and BiH. The essence of "Mini-Schengen" is to maximize the economic potential of all countries, attract as much foreign investment, increase production and exports through the free flow of people, goods, capital and services, as well as to create conditions for all citizens to live and work in another country. By signing the agreement in Washington on September 4, last year Kosovo decided to join the initiative, while Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro have not yet made such a decision.

The Chamber of Commerce of Serbia and its President Marko Čadež have formed a solid framework for the "Mini-Schengen" project development by building partnerships with the Chambers of Commerce of Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia.

Relations between the chambers of commerce of the countries of the region show that business interests know no borders and that cooperation can be good even when political relations between countries are not the best. It is necessary to continue with strong support and full implementation of the "Mini-Schengen" project.

Brussels officials, however, are unaware of the fact that Europe will never be whole, strong and secure until the entire Balkans are included in major European trends. The promise from Thessaloniki in 2003 that all the countries of the Western Balkans would become part of the EU has remained unfulfilled to this day. By stopping the enlargement process, the EU has consciously opened a space in the Western Balkans for the influence and stronger action of China, Russia, Turkey and certain Gulf countries. European bureaucrats do not understand that without an influential and homogeneous EU, there is no European policy in the Balkans.

Instead of representing the first line of defense against Russia, Germany directly enabled Russia to help populist regimes in the countries of the EU and the Western Balkans, thus indirectly working on the disintegration and destabilization of Europe. The EU is no longer the guardian of European freedoms and values. Today, the United States is the only guarantor of the EU's survival.

The EU has failed to consolidate politically for two decades. Its monolithicity exists only on paper. The European Council is, practically, blocked due to the impossibility to reach a consensus on everything that encroaches on Russian and Chinese strategic interests: sanctions on the Russian and Chinese political and business structures, the migrant crisis, Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, energy, propaganda, industrial, economic and military espionage, corruption... The EU has been left without a common foreign and security policy. The tide of malignant Russian and Chinese influence threatens the unity, democracy and peace of the European Union.

EU-China relations have become the most serious threat to the survival of European civilization. The weakness and inferiority of the EU in these relations are even more serious threats than a pandemic. China and Russia have been supporting populists across European countries for years with sophisticated propaganda, which has further contributed to the collapse of democracy.

At this moment, the EU is not able and must not take political and economic risks and reconsider its relations with China. The biggest strategic defeats of the EU since its establishment are the sale of European ports to the Chinese and investments in infrastructure. The EU has fallen into a deep moral and political crisis, among other things, due to the corruption of European politicians, media, intellectuals, who consciously turned their heads and ran away from the truth that Europe and its value system were seriously attacked and threatened.

For the new American administration, the Western Balkans is one of the priorities because it is the point of intersection of dangerous and toxic influences that are destroying the entire Western world. In these circumstances, it is necessary to increase the engagement of the USA in a way that accelerates the process of European integration to the maximum and that all six countries in the region become part of the EU. Time has shown that only the policy of the international community in Europe and in the Balkans, for which the United States stood firmly, is successful and efficient.

Milovan Jovanovic is a journalist and political commentator from Serbia.