These days, we have to raise four questions: What has happened? What is going to happen? How does it affect me? What do I have to do now?
What has happened?
Last year, the world was busy with economic growth, which has been present in the previous 70 years — with a few minor rumbles. The future appeared bright: 2020 will be the best year in history — and 2021 will be even better. Of course, the future was not spotless, remember Syria, Iran and the climate change. In last November, the European Parliament declared a climate emergency. However, the remedy was ready: Europe is promised to be carbon neutral by 2050.
In early April, George Friedman, the founder of Stratfor, was directly asked whether he had foreseen the COVID-19 crisis?
"Not at all. Nobody knew it."
A new virus has appeared. The virus infected and killed many people. It has already happened in history. The epidemic began in China. The rest of the world set by and watched — with a faint malicious pleasure perhaps.
Today we are facing a world epidemic; only 18 countries have not yet been affected. More than one million people are infected, and more than sixty-thousand people have been killed. The ever increasing numbers are truly frightening.
Hundred years ago, the last big pandemic of Spanish flu caused 10-50 million deaths. However, that time the world was not as open and global as it is today.
Europe has slowed to a near halt. Countries have closed their borders and attempt to overcome the situation alone. Doctors and hospitals are overloaded. There are not enough face masks or protective equipment, testing tools — and no remedy. We hope to slow down the pandemic to relieve medical care. And everybody is waiting for the redeeming vaccination.
Only the ancient remedies are still working: isolation and quarantine.
The world is neither open nor global anymore. The economy continues stalling; international travel has ceased. People are closed in their homes, and it is only fear that remains.
What is going to happen?
You must tell yourself that this will end as everything does. Some patients will recover -- hopefully, most of them -- and some will die. The lockdown and the emergency will be lifted in time. But the world will never be the same.
"In other words, every component of aggregate demand – consumption, capital spending, exports – is in unprecedented free fall. While most self-serving commentators have been anticipating a V-shaped downturn – with output falling sharply for one quarter and then rapidly recovering the next – it should now be clear that the COVID-19 crisis is something else entirely. The contraction that is now underway looks to be neither V- nor U- nor L-shaped (a sharp downturn followed by stagnation). Rather, it looks like an I: a vertical line representing financial markets and the real economy plummeting."
Is it possible that the crisis is unlike that of 2008? Is it possible that the crisis is not a transient bug but a systemic crisis?
We increasingly read about "deglobalisation". The globalised world, as it is today, is vulnerable, and we need a secure world (see the latest survey of Die Welt).
We try to maintain a confident bearing, but it's virtually impossible as we know that the coronavirus (or another virus) crisis can come back anytime.
The pendulum has swung in one direction too much. It now comes the opposite: isolation after openness and controlled movement after free movement (of goods, people, capital and services). Countries will try to get out of the slump independently, even at the expense of others, and rebuild a safe economy.
How does it affect me?
If you read this article, you may be interested in getting a residency or second citizenship.
In the near future, the world will not be open again. Forget easily obtainable Schengen or other visas, and unbound travel in the world. Don't dream about the secure purchase of properties or the quick set up of a new business in Europe.
Fear demands even more safety. The approval of a visa application will be longer and more difficult. New countries will be added to the "risky countries" list.
We expect hard times, including an economic crisis and the change of free movement. The crisis will be different in different countries.
You should ask yourself what prospect awaits you in your country.
What do I have to do now?
Act as soon as possible. This is not the right time to sit by and watch. Do not repeat the old mistakes.
If you want to move freely or have a place to go in any crisis -- act now. If you want your children to access European education or if you want to do your business worldwide or secure your wealth -- you should act now.
The residency and citizenship programmes will be available — at least in the short term. The longer-term is not foreseeable. However, the residency or citizenship, you have acquired, is not revokable even if the programme is cancelled. Fortunately, European law is not retroactive.
This is the right time to act.