WHO is having a better or worse Covid-19 crisis? The comparisons will continue through and beyond the crisis: did authoritarian regimes do well or badly, did the south-east Asian democracies get it right, why were the US and UK so tardy, might the EU collapse?

For the European Union, the multi-faceted crisis has exposed it on multiple flanks. Health is mostly a member state responsibility, not an EU one. Yet calls for action by Brussels, and criticisms of its slow response, took off sharply in March. The EU’s single market, and its Schengen border-free zone, took a rapid hit as individual states haphazardly put up border controls.

And the deep fault lines within the Eurozone, barely healed from last decade’s euro crisis, sprang back into prominence with a furious row in the last couple of weeks. Hard-pressed and angry Italian and Spanish political leaders said the future of the EU itself was in doubt. Jacques Delors, the 94-year-old former Commission leader, put out a rare statement underlining the EU was in mortal danger.

Yet, last Thursday night, as the EU paused for the long Easter weekend, bad-tempered and hard-to-coordinate video calls between the EU’s finance ministers, in true EU style, partly found a way forward and partly kicked the ball further down the road. The finance ministers’ deal resolved, for now, the bitter stand-off between north and south – epitomised as an Italy-Netherlands fight (with Italian paper La Stampa apparently even taking the Netherlands off its weather map for a couple of days).

A €500 billion pandemic support package should now be signed off by the EU’s leaders next week. It limits conditionality on financial assistance from the European Stability Mechanism – a key demand of Italy, not wanting to be treated as Greece was in the euro crisis. But it leaves the divisions over corona bonds and mutualisation of debt in the post-crisis recovery as a battle for the weeks and months ahead.

Is this a failing EU or this is a typical Brussels muddling through? Perhaps a bit of both. Hard-fought eurozone fights are nothing new. But the inadequacies of the eurozone’s fiscal tools in a crisis have been cast into the cruel light of day yet again. And the intensity of the corona crisis in Italy and Spain, and their sense of European neighbours taking time to come to their assistance (though they did in the end), has sharpened the political and public sense of a lack of solidarity at the moment when it was most needed.

How this plays out depends on the path the crisis takes next – in its health, economic, political and social dimensions. The Italian government is happy with the support deal for now. And the European Commission has stepped in to coordinate restrictions on external borders, proposed a €100bn unemployment reinsurance scheme (part of the €500 billion package), and coordinated joint medical procurement amongst other actions.

But member states have pushed back on the Commission’s intended joint lockdown exit proposals – overstepping its powers on a core issue. And Hungary’s unlimited emergency powers have yet to see a robust Brussels response.

In a crisis like no other, the EU has managed in way that is perhaps true to form. Slow at the start, big public rows, divergent member state responses – yet in the end moving forward. Will it be enough? Time will tell – but don’t write the EU off for now.

Kirsty Hughes is Director, Scottish Centre on European Relations