by Frank Schnittger
Fri Jul 3rd, 2020 at 12:55:45 PM EST
Some things will never be the same again and to imagine it will soon be 'business as usual'
may well be wishful thinking. Photo: Aine McMahon/PA Wire
The Irish Independent (and Irish Examiner) have published my letter on the possible end of a golden age for European politics. Apparently some browsers aren't rendering the screen grab of the letter properly, so I reproduce below the fold the image, text and link.
Europe's golden age may fade in the face of new challenges
Historians may well come to regard the 75-year period from 1945-2020 as a golden age for European politics. We’ve had an unprecedented period of peace, growing prosperity and, despite huge pressures, generally high levels of social cohesion.
Technological progress has improved the quality of life for many with the internet providing much-improved connectivity and productivity, and with smartphones, microwaves, affordable cars and air travel enabling greater comfort and convenience for the vast majority.
Educational standards have improved to the point where a third-level qualification has become the norm rather than the exception available only to the wealthier classes. Healthcare has improved, life expectancies have been extended and fewer people are dying of preventable causes.
But is all of this uneven improvement now going to end with a deteriorating climate, rising seas, recurring pandemics, urban congestion, rising immigration pressures and nationalism within Europe and global tensions between the US and China?
Ireland faces a perfect storm of huge challenges. To mention just a few: Managing the end of lockdown without a resurgence of infection; economic recovery after the pandemic; radically revamping the health service to overcome endemic delays in accessing services; overcoming a crisis in the availability of affordable public housing; developing an affordable national childcare model; overcoming the effects of a hard Brexit on our food industry; maintaining peace and social cohesion in the face of demographic changes and a possible break-up of the UK; global and European corporate tax reform resulting in significant loss of tax revenues; a decline in world trade impacting disproportionately on our open economy; and an ambitious and expensive Green New Deal, including an average 7pc annual reduction in carbon emissions.
One cannot but wish the new Government well in addressing these challenges, but we may have to temper our expectations. Some things will never be the same again and to imagine it will soon be “business as usual” may well be wishful thinking.
Blessington, Co Wicklow