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Coronavirus: The second wave? [What Think Tanks are thinking]

25-09-2020

Since the end of the holiday season, the rate of Covid-19 infection in Europe has increased to levels not seen since their peak in April 2020. Many cities and regions, and now whole countries, have had to reinforce preventive measures. An increasing number of governments around the world already face a dilemma over whether or not to return to strict confinement, which would further cripple their economies. In this context, this year’s UN General Assembly, witnessed a bizarre digital stand-off between ...

Since the end of the holiday season, the rate of Covid-19 infection in Europe has increased to levels not seen since their peak in April 2020. Many cities and regions, and now whole countries, have had to reinforce preventive measures. An increasing number of governments around the world already face a dilemma over whether or not to return to strict confinement, which would further cripple their economies. In this context, this year’s UN General Assembly, witnessed a bizarre digital stand-off between the Presidents of the United State and China, as they compete respectively for domestic and global approval of their handling of the pandemic. This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports from international think tanks on coronavirus and related issues. Earlier publications on the coronavirus can be found in the previous item in this series, published by EPRS on 4 September 2020.

How the coronavirus pandemic shook up our relationship with food

24-09-2020

First there was panic-buying. There were concerns over safety: could one be infected by food? Realisation of the efforts of supermarket staff, truck drivers and warehouse staff to keep food coming to customers. Spring amidst closed borders awakened us to how much we depend on foreign farm workers to pick fruit and vegetables. There were campaigns for furloughed employees to go and work on farms. Then came news about the conditions endured by some foreign workers in the food-processing industry. The ...

First there was panic-buying. There were concerns over safety: could one be infected by food? Realisation of the efforts of supermarket staff, truck drivers and warehouse staff to keep food coming to customers. Spring amidst closed borders awakened us to how much we depend on foreign farm workers to pick fruit and vegetables. There were campaigns for furloughed employees to go and work on farms. Then came news about the conditions endured by some foreign workers in the food-processing industry. The rollercoaster of the coronavirus crisis has changed our relationship with food, but whether just temporarily or for good, remains to be seen.

Upholding human rights in Europe during the pandemic

23-09-2020

The severe coronavirus outbreak has forced governments across the world to resort to drastic measures in order to slow down the spread of the virus and prevent a public health crisis. As elsewhere, these emergency measures taken in Europe have affected all aspects of societal life and profoundly impacted people's personal freedoms and individual rights, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Although certain human rights can be suspended in situations of emergency, human ...

The severe coronavirus outbreak has forced governments across the world to resort to drastic measures in order to slow down the spread of the virus and prevent a public health crisis. As elsewhere, these emergency measures taken in Europe have affected all aspects of societal life and profoundly impacted people's personal freedoms and individual rights, as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Although certain human rights can be suspended in situations of emergency, human rights conventions, such as the ECHR, continue to apply even then. In fact, many human rights instruments provide for such situations and contain dedicated 'emergency clauses' that give governments additional flexibility to address crises. Indeed, within the ECHR framework, Article 15 is one such clause that allows Council of Europe (CoE) member states to temporarily diverge from their ordinary convention obligations to resolve an emergency, provided certain conditions are met. During the coronavirus pandemic, derogation clauses such as Article 15 of the ECHR, have gained particular importance, as so far 10 CoE member states have notified their intention to derogate from certain ECHR provisions in order to tackle the outbreak. This briefing explains the functioning of Article of the 15 ECHR and its application to the current health emergency. Furthermore, it lists some fundamental rights and freedoms that have been affected by the coronavirus emergency measures, while also showcasing how Member States have sought to reconcile measures to protect public health with the fundamental rights principles enshrined in the ordinary framework of the ECHR. The briefing also stresses that it is key to protect the human rights of vulnerable persons, including during the implementation of recovery strategies.

The evolving consequences of the coronavirus 'infodemic': How viral false coronavirus-related information affects people and societies across the world

23-09-2020

Massive waves of information, including extensive amounts of false information have accompanied the coronavirus pandemic. False information is being spread by a number of different actors for various reasons. Deliberately deceptive (geo-)political disinformation campaigns to undermine democracies – including the European Union (EU) – have been spread by authoritarian state actors and their proxies. Extremist groups have exploited the situation to spread their messaging. Others have propagated misleading ...

Massive waves of information, including extensive amounts of false information have accompanied the coronavirus pandemic. False information is being spread by a number of different actors for various reasons. Deliberately deceptive (geo-)political disinformation campaigns to undermine democracies – including the European Union (EU) – have been spread by authoritarian state actors and their proxies. Extremist groups have exploited the situation to spread their messaging. Others have propagated misleading information for financial gain. At the same time, a combination of widespread anxiety as well as increased use of social media during lockdowns in many countries have provide fertile ground for 'organic' false information and conspiracy theories by individual users who do not intentionally want to deceive anyone, but inadvertently become part of the problem by spreading and/or amplifying misleading messages. The repercussions of the 'infodemic' are still evolving, but have impacted the ability of authorities to effectively deal with the pandemic, with the infodemic is aggravating the spread of the virus itself. Different regions of the world have been challenged by a variety of types of false information and both general and region-specific narratives – many of which have impacted public health, the economy, geopolitics and societal stability.

Post-COVID-19 Global Currency Order: Risks and Opportunities for the Euro

22-09-2020

The issuance of EU debt in the context of the recovery plan for Europe creates scope for strengthening the international role of the euro. However, with a large share of safe euro assets likely to be absorbed by the pandemic emergency purchase programme of the ECB, a shortage of eligible bonds stands to impede such progress. The ECB could decisively increase the supply of safe assets by issuing tradable ECB certificates of deposit as a way of overcoming this obstacle. This document was provided ...

The issuance of EU debt in the context of the recovery plan for Europe creates scope for strengthening the international role of the euro. However, with a large share of safe euro assets likely to be absorbed by the pandemic emergency purchase programme of the ECB, a shortage of eligible bonds stands to impede such progress. The ECB could decisively increase the supply of safe assets by issuing tradable ECB certificates of deposit as a way of overcoming this obstacle. This document was provided by Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

Parlamendiväline autor

Barry EICHENGREEN, Daniel GROS

A European week of sport... like no other

21-09-2020

This year, the sixth round of the European Week of Sport (23-30 September) will kick off in unusual circumstances. The lockdown measures put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic have made the initiative more necessary than ever.

This year, the sixth round of the European Week of Sport (23-30 September) will kick off in unusual circumstances. The lockdown measures put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic have made the initiative more necessary than ever.

Disruption by technology: Impacts on politics, economics and society

21-09-2020

Technological development has long been considered as a disruptive force, provoking change at many levels, from the routine daily activities of individuals to dramatic competition between global superpowers. This analysis examines disruption caused by technologies in a series of key areas of politics, economics and society. It focuses on seven fields: the economic system, the military and defence, democratic debates and the 'infosphere', social norms, values and identities, international relations ...

Technological development has long been considered as a disruptive force, provoking change at many levels, from the routine daily activities of individuals to dramatic competition between global superpowers. This analysis examines disruption caused by technologies in a series of key areas of politics, economics and society. It focuses on seven fields: the economic system, the military and defence, democratic debates and the 'infosphere', social norms, values and identities, international relations, and the legal and regulatory system. It also presents surveillance as an example of how technological disruption across these domains can converge to propel other phenomena. The key disruptive force of 2020 is non-technological, namely coronavirus. The pandemic is used here as an opportunity to examine how technological disruption interacts with other forms of disruption.

Outlook for the special European Council meeting of 24-25 September 2020

21-09-2020

At the special European Council on 24-25 September 2020, EU Heads of State or Government are expected to dedicate much of their time to external relations issues, notably to a strategic discussion on Turkey and a debate on relations with China. Continuing illegal Turkish drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean have made the former more urgent, while the latter is long overdue. The European Council is also likely to adopt extensive conclusions regarding the single market, industrial and digital ...

At the special European Council on 24-25 September 2020, EU Heads of State or Government are expected to dedicate much of their time to external relations issues, notably to a strategic discussion on Turkey and a debate on relations with China. Continuing illegal Turkish drilling activities in the eastern Mediterranean have made the former more urgent, while the latter is long overdue. The European Council is also likely to adopt extensive conclusions regarding the single market, industrial and digital policy, reiterating the key objective of achieving strategic autonomy, whilst maintaining an open economy. EU leaders are expected to call for development of EU autonomy in the space sector, a more integrated defence industrial base, and for the presentation of a 'digital compass' setting out the EU's digital ambitions for 2030 in its move towards digital sovereignty. The European Council is also likely to seek development of new industrial alliances and the removal of remaining unjustified barriers, particularly in services. EU leaders will also take stock of the coronavirus situation and review the coordination of national and European measures.

Plenary round-up – Brussels, September 2020

18-09-2020

The September 2020 plenary session was the sixth conducted with Members participating remotely, using the alternative voting procedure put in place in March by Parliament's Bureau, although a majority were again present in Brussels. As well as the Commission President's traditional State of the Union address, Parliament held a joint debate on the risk of breach of the rule of law and LGBTI-free zones in Poland. Parliament also debated European Commission statements on the preparation of the special ...

The September 2020 plenary session was the sixth conducted with Members participating remotely, using the alternative voting procedure put in place in March by Parliament's Bureau, although a majority were again present in Brussels. As well as the Commission President's traditional State of the Union address, Parliament held a joint debate on the risk of breach of the rule of law and LGBTI-free zones in Poland. Parliament also debated European Commission statements on the preparation of the special European Council focusing on Turkey's actions in the eastern Mediterranean, on the consequences for the single market of EU coordination of sanitary measures in the ongoing pandemic, on combatting sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and on the need for a humanitarian EU response to the situation in the Moria refugee camp. Parliament also debated statements from the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borell, on the situation in Belarus, in Lebanon and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Parliament also voted on legislative proposals and resolutions, including on arms exports, the Union Civil Protection Mechanism, the EU Association Agreement with Georgia, protecting world forests, EU-African security cooperation in the Sahel, type approval of motor vehicles and the importance of urban and green infrastructure.

Developing a pandemic emergency purchase programme: Unconventional monetary policy to tackle the coronavirus crisis

18-09-2020

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union specifies the maintenance of price stability in the euro area as the primary objective of EU single monetary policy. Subject to that, it should also contribute to the achievement of the Union's objectives, which include 'full employment' and 'balanced economic growth'. Responsibility for the conduct of monetary policy is attributed to the Eurosystem, which carries out its tasks through a set of standard instruments referred to as the 'operational ...

The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union specifies the maintenance of price stability in the euro area as the primary objective of EU single monetary policy. Subject to that, it should also contribute to the achievement of the Union's objectives, which include 'full employment' and 'balanced economic growth'. Responsibility for the conduct of monetary policy is attributed to the Eurosystem, which carries out its tasks through a set of standard instruments referred to as the 'operational framework'. To tackle the financial crisis, the Eurosystem has complemented its regular operations by implementing several non-standard monetary policy measures since 2009. The first strand of these measures had the primary objective of restoring the correct functioning of the monetary transmission mechanism by supporting certain distressed financial market segments, playing an important role in the conduct of monetary policy. A second strand of non-standard measures was aimed at sustaining prices and fostering economic growth by expanding the size of the Eurosystem balance sheet through massive purchases of eligible securities, including public debt instruments issued by euro-area countries. Net purchases were conducted between October 2014 and December 2018, after which the Eurosystem continued to simply reinvest repayments from maturing securities to maintain the size of cumulative net purchases at December 2018 levels. Due to prevailing conditions, however, in September 2019, the European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council decided to recommence net purchases in November of the same year 'for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates'. The spread of the coronavirus in early 2020 has impaired growth prospects for the global and euro-area economies and made additional monetary stimulus necessary. In this context, the ECB has increased the size of existing asset purchase programmes, and launched a temporary, separate and additional pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP). This is an updated edition of a briefing published in April 2020.