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24 Jun, 2020 16:03

This EU ‘save the world’ extravaganza, featuring Shakira, Coldplay and ‘The Rock,’ is a toxic mix of politics and entertainment

This EU ‘save the world’ extravaganza, featuring Shakira, Coldplay and ‘The Rock,’ is a toxic mix of politics and entertainment

Having struggled to find a role for itself in the pandemic, the EU’s devised a summit/concert that nobody asked for, packed it with celebs, and wrapped it all up in a meaningless message that’s supposed to make us all feel better.

The political leaders of the European Union (EU) have not had a good pandemic, and it’s about to get a whole lot worse this weekend, as we face Global Goal: Unite for our Future – the Summit and Concert.

A global, sweat-inducing nightmare of an event featuring a toxic mixture of desperate politicians alongside blowhard millionaire actors and musicians (who, in this context, call themselves ‘activists’), all telling us we should be doing more to make the world a better place. Once we all stop dying from Covid-19, that is.

And who, exactly, is taking part in this event, which absolutely nobody asked for? Well, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, he of ‘Fast & Furious’ movie fame, is co-hosting alongside, er, Ursula von der Leyen. Not widely known for her film roles, of which there have been none, she is the president of the European Commission. So, what, in the name of Mathayus – The Rock’s character in ‘The Scorpion King’ – is going on?

The European Commission has struggled throughout the global coronavirus outbreak. While vainly trying to find a role for itself, it has been wrong-footed at every turn by its own bloc members, who’ve chosen to go it alone in tackling the invisible killer, rather than wait for some lumpen, overly bureaucratic and far-too-late response from Brussels. And to a large extent, that’s worked for them, with varying results. 

Meanwhile, the Commission – always the nerd at the disco – has looked on from the sidelines, waiting for someone to take notice. Well aware that cash wins friends, like a jacked-up Formula One driver on the winner’s podium with a magnum of Möet, it sprayed around a trillion euros.

But even the goodwill that inspired has been short-lived. It had followed weeks of arguments between the frugal and the spendthrift about whether the money would be handed out in the form of grants or loans. Those disagreements between EU members were just as divisive as the earlier disputes about allowing the export of domestically produced PPE and medical gear between neighbors, and, of course, the staggered tit-for-tat border closures that were largely about reducing the spread of Covid-19, but also tinged with nationalism.

The pandemic has given us all a sharp reminder of what the world was like before the EU, when each nation put its own people first, rather than the common good of nearly 500 million others. I’m not saying it was better – it’s just been, well, interesting.

As the pandemic settles into a new normal, the Commission is trying yet again to exercise influence, create relevance and remind us all it still exists. We’ve had the bread, in the shape of cash bailouts, and now for the circuses.

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So, call in the “talent.” Alongside ‘The Rock,’ we can expect music from Coldplay, Shakira, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Miley Cyrus and others. We’ll also hear from actors Hugh Jackman, Chris Rock, Forest Whitaker, Salma Hayek and, yep, the nice but dim former footballer David Beckham,

President von der Leyen, a former German defence minister, is as wooden as you can get, and, when announcing this weekend’s event ,she killed any sense of anticipation stone dead with her dull declaration that “artists, scientists and world leaders will speak with one voice, in a true and rare moment of global unity.” Really? This is what people want?

She said those in the star-studded lineup would “commit to ending coronavirus, leaving no one behind.” I truly cannot wait to hear what plan Becks has for seeing off Covid-19.

Von der Leyen also spoke of the EU being committed to making sure everyone had access to a coronavirus vaccine. Vaccine? Where? Where?! I want it! Give it to me now! Oh, that’s right. There is no vaccine yet. So, what on earth is she talking about?

You can tell, maybe, that I’m not sold on this whole summit mixed with concert malarkey, but surely I’m not alone? It's not just music and entertainment; it’s about leaders using the power of celebrity to distract us while we’re force-fed some globalized political message about health care for all, marginalised communities, leaving no one behind... blah, blah, blah. It’s a premature attempt to rebuild unity among nations, when most remember that they were best left by themselves to fight the coronavirus in their own way. The time will come, just not now. Meanwhile, EU leaders will bask in the reflected glory of glamorous Hollywood types, and convince themselves this nonsense is achieving something of global importance.

It’s a premature event that will wrongly be seen as signaling the end of the pandemic while people are still dying, while the infection rate in Germany spikes at perilous levels, and while the US continues to ride the first wave of this unprecedented killer virus.

Novak Djokovic found out this week what arrogance in the face of the coronavirus can do – the tennis world’s number-one player fell victim to Covid-19, after ignoring warnings against organizing a tennis event in Croatia.

Worldwide deaths may be down, but this pandemic has not yet passed. It’s not the time to start preaching to us all, or holding celebratory concerts, or assembling earnest advisory panels with Ken Jeong, he of the Hangover movies (I mean, whuh?). 

It’s another tragically bad call by the EU – unless, of course, David Beckham has conjured up a cure in between filming a TV advert, being a UNICEF ambassador and getting another tattoo.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.