Monday

25th Jan 2021

Coronavirus

Coronavirus: EU at high risk amid global panic

  • The number of cases of coronavirus registered in Italy jumped by around 50 percent in 24 hours (Photo: Ian Sane)

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Monday (2 March) that the European disease prevention agency has decided that the risk of coronavirus infection in the EU is currently "high", as the outbreak spread to 18 member states.

"The ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) announced today that the risk level has risen from moderate to high for people in the European Union. In other words, the virus continues to spread," she told reporters in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

As of 2 March 2020, 89,779 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported worldwide, as well as 3,069 deaths - most of them in China - and 45,512 recoveries.

Within a few days, cases of coronavirus in Italy, the most-affected country in the EU, have risen to over 1,700, with 41 deaths.

The number of cases of coronavirus registered in Italy jumped on Sunday by about 50 percent.

Across the entire EU, more than 2,100 cases have been confirmed in 18 member states.

However, according to the health commissioner Stella Kyriakides, "this is a rapidly-changing situation".

EU's response team

As a result, the commission on Monday launched the "corona response team" - formed of five commissioners who will coordinate work on halting the coronavirus outbreak.

Their work will be focussed on three main pillars: healthcare, mobility, and the economy.

Additionally, the commission launched an accelerated joint-procurement procedure for personal protective equipment with 20 member states, over fears that the outbreak of the coronavirus could lead to a supply shortage.

EU health ministers, meanwhile, will gather in Brussels on Friday for the second extraordinary meeting focussed on the last developments of coronavirus.

Likewise, the EU's executive body said that any member state can notify the EU authorities of the intention of closing borders temporary due to the coronavirus outbreak - although local media reported an increased checkpoints in airports and cross border in some EU countries, such as Hungary or Bulgaria.

The commissioner for crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said that "the effectiveness of closing borders is questionable" and that all measures should be proportionate and based on scientific evidence.

"The commission has a coordinating and supporting approach, but the responsibility for the measures taken lies on the member states," Lenarcic added.

'Too optimistic'

The commissioner for the economy, Paolo Gentiloni, also said that the EU was ready to use all possible measures to safeguard EU's growth and tackle the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy.

Additionally, Gentiloni also said that a 'V-shaped' recovery - a period of economic decline followed by a quick recovery - cannot be taken for granted, and might be "too optimistic".

EU finance ministers are scheduled to have an extraordinary teleconference on Wednesday (5 March) to discuss urgent measures at the national level to reduce risks of an economic crisis.

These measures include public support for healthcare, short-term liquidity measures, or unemployment risk assessments, Gentiloni said.

Finance ministers will also consider the possibility of having a "coordinated fiscal response," which could involve exceptional measures similar to those adopted to tackle the 2008 global financial crisis.

Likewise, the European Central Bank (ECB) stands ready to adjust all of its instruments "to ensure that inflation moves towards its aim in a sustained manner," ECB vice-president, Luis de Guindos, said, also on Monday.

Feature

Coronavirus hysteria hits Romania

Romanian authorities earlier this week confirmed the first, and only, case of coronavirus infection - yet public hysteria over a possible national outbreak hit the country days before.

WHO on coronavirus in Europe: 'be prepared'

The European Commission also urged EU member states to review their pandemic plans and to inform it about their healthcare capabilities in response to the outbreak.

Coronavirus: EU ministers urge members to share supplies

EU health ministers voiced concerns about the possible shortage of protective equipment and medicines in some member states, after Germany, France, and the Czech Republic blocked the export of anti-virus gear.

News in Brief

  1. AstraZeneca told to meet EU vaccine supply commitments
  2. Estonia to get first woman prime minister
  3. Turkey and Greece to hold Mediterranean security talks
  4. Dutch police detain 240 in anti-lockdown protests
  5. Renewables overtake fossil fuels in EU electricity mix
  6. France's top scientist warns of corona 'emergency'
  7. Growing appetite for Northern Ireland independence
  8. Surge in support for Portuguese far-right party

EU rolls out vaccine, as UK-variant spreads

Most EU member states began rolling out the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 on Sunday, as a more contagious variant from the UK begins to spread on the continent.

Pandemic exposed gulf in EU digital-schooling

EU states who invested in digital education were better able to protect students from the pandemic, a new report has said. Meanwhile, poor and rural pupils were worse off.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  2. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!
  6. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice

Latest News

  1. Navalny protests sharpen EU sanctions talks
  2. Why Russia politics threaten European security
  3. MEPs call for workers to have 'right to disconnect'
  4. Reality bites EU's 'No More Morias' pledge
  5. Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity
  6. Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK
  7. Will EU ever take action to stop Israeli settlements?
  8. EU leaders keep open borders, despite new corona variant risk

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us