Tuesday

26th May 2020

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

Support quality EU news

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.

Polish 'LGBTI-free zones' not ok, says EU commission

The European Commissioner for equality Helena Dalli has said the distribution of 'LGBTI-free zones' stickers or the adoption of anti-LGBTI resolutions cannot be allowed. Some 86 towns in Poland have so far declared themselves 'LGBTI-free zones'.

Feature

Paradox: Nordics' privileged youth feel miserable

Young people in the Nordic countries are among the most privileged in the world - yet many of them feel miserable. The Nordic Council is concerned and aims to find out why.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  3. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic co-operation on COVID-19
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic research collaboration on pandemics

Latest News

  1. Recovery plans unveiled This WEEK
  2. EU and UK stumbling into Irish border crisis
  3. Malta patrol boat 'intimidates' capsized migrants
  4. How coronavirus might hit EU defence spending
  5. Herman Van Rompuy on power and influence in the EU
  6. EU links access to recovery fund to economic advice
  7. EU wants to halve use of pesticides by 2030
  8. Top editors alarmed by media cuts in EU and beyond

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us