The sovereignism virus sweeping Europe

PUBLISHED: 14:37 13 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:37 13 March 2020

A London taxi driver waves a Union Jack flag in Westminster after the Brexit vote. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

A London taxi driver waves a Union Jack flag in Westminster after the Brexit vote. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

The failed ideology of sovereignism is sweeping Europe - how will it be tackled?

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Even in these days of coronavirus panic, what we Italians call sovereignism is the real threat. Countries that lock themselves within their borders, countries that delude themselves they can face the future alone by relying on some theatrical leader.

Sovereignism is a new nickname for an old and failed recipe, the nationalist one. Political leftovers of the bigoted patriotism which wrote the bloodiest pages of our European history, now repackaged nicely to be more attractive to the followers of our times. But beyond ideological considerations, sovereignism does not make sense today for practical and concrete reasons, as the ongoing virus emergency also shows. The illusion of locking the problems that afflict our era outside our borders in an already totally globalized world means condemning citizens to political irrelevance.

The sovereignism virus has been raging for some time in Europe. In England, it has led to the masochistic epic of Brexit but another outbreak is in Italy with the explosion of the Salvini bubble.

Once the coronavirus emergency broke out in Italy, sovereignists attacked Europe and even threatened Italexit. They demand money and help to face the emergency. Hypocrites.


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Italian sovereignists have always hindered every step forward in European integration. Today they are looking for a scapegoat in Brussels; they fear that the virus emergency will once again demonstrate how obsolete and losing their political ideas are in an increasingly interdependent world.

If a truly united political and social Europe were finally born, it would be the end of sovereignism. The European Republic can no longer be postponed and the sovereignism virus should be eradicated forever.

Tommaso Merlo, Milan

In the 1980s, as an export salesman, I travelled to Africa, the Middle East and to Europe. During those days, I liked to think that I was being a good ambassador for this country, but now I'm not so sure if it was worth the effort.

Look at the ghastly sight of Nigel Farage, Ann Widdecombe and their yobbish supporters, wearing union jack ties. These ill-mannered louts just made me feel ashamed to be British.

Victor Timmons

Amid all the nationalistic fury aimed at those with the temerity to continue flying the European flag (take a bow, Nicola Sturgeon and the leader of Hounslow Council), we should continue to remind people that it was originally adopted by and continues to be the flag of the Council of Europe, as well as that of the EU.

Ask your local Leavers about the Council of Europe. My experience suggests they won't have a clue.

Phil Green

Let us take some comfort that we are still members of the Council of Europe, whose stated aim is to uphold human rights, democracy and the rule of law

in Europe. The UK is a founding member of the organisation, which predates

the EU and has a membership of 47 states. The European Convention on Human Rights - ratified by the UK in 1951 - and the European Court of Human Rights are both parts of the Council of Europe and it is to be hoped that our membership will hold the government to account over any diminution of our human rights.

The council flag, which we should continue to fly, predates that of the EU, has the same 12 yellow stars on a blue background and now sometimes with a large white 'C' superimposed around the stars.

Ian Auchterlonie, Dundee

- Send your letters for publication to letters@theneweuropean.co.uk

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