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Fear, the worst counsel

But what has happened to the world's most advanced countries, and to Europe, who have sunk into health anxiety, taking decisions that are irreparably damaging to their economies and restricting freedoms?

It was under the influence of fear  that it all began.

Fear and apprehension on the part of citizens who thought they were protected from everything; terror on the part of poor governments, anxious to act but who have fed their dread; the failure, certainly temporary, of science to give an immediate response to the appearance of a virus that has not yet been defeated.

Then, dragged into the spiral of anxiety, they have all demanded, prescribed and applied measures of constraint that were thought to be the preserve of totalitarian regimes.

The extreme sensitivity of European societies to any danger, as revealed here, only hints at further setbacks in the face of future challenges. Let us imagine for a moment much worse situations!

Fear is the worst kind of counsel. Our history teaches us that it leads to the most horrible mistakes and that it is the mortal enemy of democracies. Restrictions on liberty, which are already too easily accepted, should encourage us to step back and, above all, for all of those involved, to be both more modest and more courageous.

Indeed, it is time to admit that we will have to deal  with this danger in the long term, that this does not mean curtailing everything that makes the European way of life attractive, its freedoms, its scientific and technical excellence and the voluntary cooperation of its Member States. 

Against fear, which may be legitimate, against the uncertainty of science in the face of a new peril, in the face of difficult public policy decisions, there is no other choice than to remain faithful to our principles of freedom and responsibility and, of course, solidarity and courage.

For Europeans, this means not seeking purely national solutions, but coming together to defeat this adversary largely within their reach without denying what they are, perhaps the last defenders of a free and open society.