As I am writing this testimony, the gates of lockdown are timidly opening up and questions are starting to arise: what kind of world are we stepping into? What marks or scars will this epidemic leave on our economies, our societies and our lives? Have we learned anything? Will we do things differently?
As a Greek, seeing my country enter a new crisis just when Greece was starting to come out of a ten-year-long nightmare, I was distressed and felt it was an injustice. We had to face this new pandemic with a weakened healthcare system and economy due to the previous crisis. Today, I am proud to say that Greece handled the first phase swiftly, realistically and successfully. Everywhere there was solidarity and a sense of common purpose.
As representatives of enterprises, our first concern was saving lives. Businesses mobilised very fast and made important donations for the purchase of medical and clinical equipment. At the same time we had to organise work from a distance and keep workers safe in the workplace, examine measures to save companies and jobs, ease liquidity, keep the value chains in place and get organised for the next phase.
Decisions were taken by our government, but we knew that no one could face this asymmetric shock alone. Europe was more relevant than ever! Europe responded - "a bit late" some will say - but it did, and we can be proud as Europeans. I think this is, yet again, the first lesson to draw from this crisis: our futures are interconnected.
The second lesson, I believe, is that we must not abandon our efforts once the coronavirus threat is behind us, but must move on with European integration, especially given the developments between China and the USA. We need to continue along the path that we planned and designed during the previous crisis to achieve a deeper economic, financial, fiscal, green, social and political Europe. I am confident that this time we will persist in our efforts.
Thirdly, before this pandemic, I was always astonished by how much our societies underestimated, undervalued and underinvested in two essential areas of life: health and education. We are living with the consequences of this - people losing their lives and populism on the rise. It is therefore even more important today to create a stronger Europe in terms of health and education.
On a more personal note, during this crisis I had the time to read some philosophy and I would like to share with you a beautiful notion. Ancient Greeks believed in the "cosmos living in harmony". This was based on two values: αιδώς, respect for others and for all the elements - vegetal, animal and human - of our world, and δίκη, justice. Let's get inspired by this concept and create this "cosmos" for ourselves!