COVID-19 and the EU

It is probably not hyperbole to state that Europe, or specifically the EU, is facing its worst crisis since WWII. That is, at least economically. A little virus has brought on a crisis that neither Brexit nor years of neoliberal austerity could produce. And so far, the COVID-19 crisis is showing up all that has been at the base of the problems with the EU. More to the point, it is showing the north-south divide between EU member states that has been there all along, but which is never really stated in polite company. Just as a divorce tends to bring out the worst in couples who promised “to love, honor and cherish ‘til death do us part” when they married, so this virus is bringing all the skeletons out of Europe’s closets. And those antagonisms usually revolve around money and possessions. It is quite a spectacle.

As the Serbian PM recently stated, after asking for assistance from Brussels for Serbia’s coronavirus crisis and being rebuffed, “European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairy tale on paper. I have sent a special letter to the only ones who can help, and that is China…” The Russians have also sent help there and stand in solidarity with the Serbs.

Italy, France and Spain, all heavily affected by the virus, have similarly asked for help from Brussels and have been told there was a snowball’s chance – that is, until Italian PM Conte threatened to pull the plug on the northern EU states’ little EU game, which would thereby break up the EU. Suddenly, there is money tentatively being made available in the form of a bailout, to the tune of €500 billion, in the form of the Mes, a so-called ‘unconditional’ loan. Italy’s Finance Minister has tentatively signed on to it, but Conte has yet to sign off on it to draw any funds. If he is smart, he won’t.

To draw on those funds would depend on conditions that would have to be agreed upon by Brussels, conditions that Italy would stipulate. The tentative sign-on by Italy’s Finance Minister has caused a political firestorm within Italy. The one condition that Conte wants to see in place before he signs off on any financial aid is the creation of a European Common Fund, along with the eventual creation of Sustainable Bonds – Eurobonds.  

Of particular interest to note is that Atlanticist-capitalist publications like the Financial Times and Bloomberg state that Eurobonds are a terrible idea and wouldn’t work. But they also point to the very north-south divide in Europe that has caused much of the problem with unity in the EU bloc.

The Mes is not likely to be nearly enough, and is also likely to produce punitive austerity measures similar to what we have seen in Greece, hence the opposition to is within Italy. The French economist Fitoussi comments thus, regarding Italy’s tentative sign-on, and further, to the future of the EU:

«It is a new disappointment, but I expected it. Europe never met when we needed it. And, therefore, it was foreseeable that the Northern countries would say no to debt mutualisation. But without mutualizing debt, today’s crisis is not resolved. And not doing it is collective suicide ».

Then he came to the most obvious conclusion: “If there is no real solidarity, a real mutualisation of the debt, or we will continue to go even further underwater or do something politically incorrect but inevitable: say enough and get out”.

Dear Conte, enough pretences, Italy is saved only by doing it yourself.”

Emphasis added. Now, given all that has happened since the Saturn/Pluto conjunction in January, the gloves are off in Europe, and the days of reckoning have come for the EU. It is either stand for the principles of the Union and show solidarity and support for all the member states, or say goodbyes, one-by-one, and go through the messy divorce with all the recriminations and hard feelings, like we are seeing with the UK. There would be no amicable separations in what now seems likely to come for the EU. Things can and do change, though.

The ideal solution to keep the EU functional would be that vehicle called ‘corona-bonds’, which would have to eventually be paid back and would have a fixed term, but which would be lent out at much reduced rates for southern European states and higher rates for the north. The states that oppose corona-bonds, predictably, are as follows: Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria, the so-called ‘Frugal Four’. The southern states barracking for them are Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium, France, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Italy, all seen as being less fiscally responsible than their northern neighbors. Is that actually true, though? We’ll look at a bit of the astrology for the EU first and then come back to the issues.

Everything that is happening now in the EU is in its astrology (1 Jan 1993, midnight, Brussels, Belgium). When we look at the chart for the EU with the directions (below, bigger), the picture of what is happening stands out very clearly, showing the background influences:

To start, we look at the 6th/12th house axis, the health and services axis, since this is the main focus at the moment. The infection axis (Mars/Neptune) is sitting on the 6th house cusp (primary services, especially health services), along with the following:

  • Mars/Uranus: “a struggle for survival, an accident, an injury, operation”, also pointing to extraordinary efforts in the face of dangers. When this is exact in about four months it will represent “a danger or peril which has fortunately passed”. That gives us a timeline for the various shutdowns across the EU.
  • Moon/Uranus: This is the ‘fear and anxiety’ axis, certainly what Europeans in general are feeling right now. In medical terms it points to imbalances in water processes in the body, and illnesses caused by anxiety.
  • Moon/Neptune: This axis points to refined sensitivity and subconscious influences. In the positive it can indicate people of vision, needed in such circumstances. In the negative it can indicate openness to deception and general weakness, as well as loss of consciousness, which is also showing in the EU now.

These two lunar axes represent the vision that is the EU – the highly idealized one of universal brotherhood, solidarity, shared effort and destiny, and so forth. The Moon is trine the Uranus/Neptune conjunction in the EU chart, giving a more positive slant.  On the other side, the Moon is opposed by a Mars/Pluto conjunction, giving a very tough outlook, along with daring, and also resolute, determined women, such as we see in Angela Merkel, for instance. It doesn’t mean their policies are always the best, but it is a combination that indicates powerful women, but can also show power used against women. The latter combination can also point to the use of force and coercion to achieve objectives. We have seen this in action with the EU, too, especially in relation to Greece and to a point with Italy. Then, there are the following axes in addition to the preceding:

  • Venus/Saturn: These two planets are also trine in the EU chart, showing an overwhelming sense of responsibility, as well as frugality. The question is, to whom? The EU has its ideals, but it is also heavily leaned on by the US, which still sees the EU member states as vassals, an integral part of the Atlanticist mind-set, enforced by the NATO alliance. Venus squares the EU Uranus/Neptune conjunction, showing tensions between ideals and relations, as well as weakness in leadership. It also rules the 10th house, representing the Troika and the government in Brussels in general. This direction, with the resulting crisis in health and services, is testing loyalties and ideals, and those have been found to be lacking thus far.
  • Neptune/Pluto: This is ‘the Supernatural’ axis, a combination connected with spiritual research and occultists. But it is also one that shows weakness in physical response. Its direction to the EU health axis (6th/12th house) pretty much tells the whole story of what has happened regarding EU health services: “The treacherously painless stage of disease. A lack of incentive or of will-power for the maintenance of health. (“Throwing up the game or the sponge”.) – Disturbances or troubles of slow or lingering development. The gradual commencement of a therapy.”
  • Uranus/Pluto: our ‘revolution axis’, just passed the cusp of the 6th house at 1 minute (one week before this writing). When it is exact it indicates the signing of papers and setting new laws in place, resulting from the events a few years before that led to the new laws. This was the ‘Brexit direction’ that brought home to the member states that all was not well within the Union. Remember, the health axis in a chart also rules all sorts of institutions and services, not just health.

In addition to the above, we see that the natal Uranus/Neptune conjunction sits on the 6th house cusp, the house that also rules the military. Part of the ideal of the EU was that it was there to prevent the wars that had decimated the continent over the last few centuries. It also shows the supposed need for the NATO alliance, as the EU does not have its own army. That conjunction and combination says a lot about the EU, and it weakens the EU.

On the plus side the Uranus/Neptune combination points to: “Peculiar psychic states, inspirations, spiritual cognition and understanding. Long journeys. (Contacts with foreign countries).” In the negative it points to: “Lack of stamina and of vitality, confused psychic states, peculiar inclinations, losses.” The latter is what we are seeing now with the leadership in Brussels and with individual states within the EU in their response to this crisis. And as a curious side note, directions of or to that axis can point to heart attacks and apoplexy, especially to the angles or the Sun. We might say that Europe has had a stroke as a result of this virus, and certainly an attack of the heart.

What we have, then, just with the preceding combinations, points to what we have seen. Europe was unprepared for the virus, partly due to years of austerity policy and cuts to public health services, and partly due to a combination of denial, incompetence, lack of solidarity and even overconfidence. China’s experience with the virus gave the world two months to prepare for what we have now. But instead, there were calls from the business community and corporations throughout the West to delay or forego any sort of lockdown. Now we see the results.

As to economics, we look at the 2nd/8th house axis. Mercury rules the 2nd house, which is the ECB, whereas Neptune rules the 8th house, which is the IMF and international banking. The aforementioned Venus/Saturn axis will be conjunct the natal Uranus/Neptune conjunction by direction in around four months: “A cold heart, the wrong ideas about love. – Regained soberness, a slow cooling off of the affections. A separation caused by wrong ideas or by disappointments in love.” With Uranus there as well, tensions will be raised that much further, with the possibility of sudden ruptures in relationships. This relates to international relations regarding finances.

With Mercury we see that the Jupiter/Neptune axis was exact there a little over a month ago by the 45° modulus (not shown on the chart), when all this talk about collapsing economy and Italy’s hardships were showing the strongest: “An active and intense imagination, rich powers of perception and visualization, the gift of inspiration. – The raising of hopes, the tendency to talk a lot, also to put on an act.”

So far, as far as the greater EU project goes, there has been a lot of talk and little action – in fact, a notable stonewalling on the part of the northern states. And much of that has to do with domestic politics in those nations, with shaky coalitions forming government, especially in the case of Germany. Merkel even went so far as to say she didn’t want any money to go to Italy because it would only go to the Mafia. I saw that on the news, and my wife’s reaction said volumes. If looks could kill… Actually, the Mafia is waiting for the crisis to worsen, not for ‘a shower of money from Brussels’, because it will swell their membership.

Italy holds the key to the EU’s survival in the short term. But the situation is going to be quite tense for the remainder of this year. We see transiting Saturn square the EU Meridian (below, bigger), where it will make its retrograde station from the 6th house (health and services, again) and this makes the divides between the member states and the Troika that much more evident.

Finally, we look at the directions to the Moon and the Mars/Pluto conjunction in the EU chart, with directed Jupiter on the latter and Ceres on the former. The Ceres direction marks a real turning point for EU institutions. Literally, it is do-or-die if the EU is to survive as its higher ideal. The Jupiter direction gives the greatest movement toward a positive outcome in the chart: “The consciousness of an aim or objective, the ability to organize, the right use of one’s energy. – The attainment of unusual successes, the enjoyment of one’s freedom” That is aided by the transiting Jupiter/Pluto conjunction, again from the 6th house, which will also be in effect for much of the year. But at the same time, it can also aggravate tensions even further.

We are in early days of this crisis, really. The true crisis for Europe is in its financial and governing structure. Either it realizes and implements its vaunted solidarity and brotherhood, or feelings will fester and it will fall apart. The opportunity for both is there. For its part, Italy will get through this one way or the other. If it has to go it alone with respect to the EU, it will be turning more toward Russia and China and the EAEU project (Eurasian Union), and that will not sit well with Washington or Brussels. If Conte can stand firm, then Italy will win out. There is a caveat, though.

In the synastry between Italy and the EU, the EU’s Saturn opposes Italy’s Mars, which is one of the most difficult aspects one can find in a relationship chart. It can be frustrating in the extreme, and the Mars person often has to bear insufferable restrictions placed upon them by the Saturn person. This is consistently what we have seen with Italy and the EU. Mars wants to move forward and be individual. Saturn says to be frugal, cautious, stick to what is known, be patient. If the Italians cave in this time, then they will be set back for years, or until they leave the EU. If they can hold out and see the creation of corona-bonds, it will be a win for all of Europe. The northern states would take a temporary hit, but the long term gains for the greater union would far outweigh any initial austerity for the northern states.

To wrap this up, then, this virus is opening people’s eyes worldwide to the inequities that have existed and grown between people, factions and states for years, ever since neoliberal, market-based economics was introduced back in the ‘80s. The EU in its present construct is such a neoliberal institution, having come into being at the height of the turbo-charging of that system under Clinton and Blair, with the UK having been pushed there by Thatcher. It was part and parcel of the globalization movement at the time. The industrialized states in the north have fared well under the system, whereas the more rural and agricultural south has had to depend to a larger extent on tourism and its produce to make a crust.

Globalization as we have been taught to believe in for these recent decades is dying quickly, if not already dead. The inequities it produces are there for all to see. There will be no ‘return to normal’ for Europe after this pandemic has passed, nor for many other nations. It is either show solidarity in Europe and live up to the ideals of the union now, or state after state will be filing for divorce in the years to come, with a lot of hard feelings all around. It is much the same for couples and families in these times, too. Divorce or a new birth: The choice is ours to make.

Featured pic: Caïn by Henri Vidal, Tuileries Garden, Paris, 1896

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