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Newsletter on COVID-19

22-04-2020

In its resolution of 17 April 2020, the European Parliament called on the Commission and the Member States to act together and to ensure that the European Union will emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis. This newsletter on COVID-19 aims to keep the ECON, EMPL, ENVI, ITRE and IMCO committees updated about the main EU recent developments and responses to the current crisis.

In its resolution of 17 April 2020, the European Parliament called on the Commission and the Member States to act together and to ensure that the European Union will emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis. This newsletter on COVID-19 aims to keep the ECON, EMPL, ENVI, ITRE and IMCO committees updated about the main EU recent developments and responses to the current crisis.

The Euro and the Geopolitics of Post-COVID-19

15-05-2020

This note provides a critical overview on the current status and recent trends related to the euro’s international standing over the last decade and reflects on the opportunities and risks for the role of the euro going forward, including the post-COVID-19 international trade and political order. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

This note provides a critical overview on the current status and recent trends related to the euro’s international standing over the last decade and reflects on the opportunities and risks for the role of the euro going forward, including the post-COVID-19 international trade and political order. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

External author

Corrado MACCHIARELLI

The ECB in the COVID-19 Crisis: Whatever it Takes, Within its Mandate

15-05-2020

To keep the euro-area economy afloat, the European Central Bank (ECB) has announced a large number of measures since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. This response has triggered fears of a future increase in inflation. We discuss the risks that the ECB is unable to fulfil its price-stability mandate, and also whether these new measures respect legal limits set by the EU Treaties. We conclude that the measures introduced by the ECB during the crisis and the resulting increase in the size of its ...

To keep the euro-area economy afloat, the European Central Bank (ECB) has announced a large number of measures since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. This response has triggered fears of a future increase in inflation. We discuss the risks that the ECB is unable to fulfil its price-stability mandate, and also whether these new measures respect legal limits set by the EU Treaties. We conclude that the measures introduced by the ECB during the crisis and the resulting increase in the size of its balance sheet, even if it were to be permanent, should not restrict its ability to achieve its price-stability mandate in the future, within its legal obligations. This document was provided by the Policy Department for Economic, Scientific and Quality of Life Policies at the request of the committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

External author

Grégory CLAEYS

COVID-19: List of the measures taken in relation to the ITRE remit - March-April 2020

12-05-2020

This briefing summarises the recent measures taken by the European Commission on matters within the remit of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy in response to the urgent and ongoing COVID-19 crisis, while referencing relevant parts of the resolution of the European Parliament of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.

This briefing summarises the recent measures taken by the European Commission on matters within the remit of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy in response to the urgent and ongoing COVID-19 crisis, while referencing relevant parts of the resolution of the European Parliament of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences.

The European Council as COVID-19 crisis manager: A comparison with previous crises

27-03-2020

The COVID-19 outbreak confronts the European Union with a severe crisis, affecting both individual EU citizens’ lives and society as a whole. Due to its role and centrality in the EU's institutional framework, the European Council is once again called upon to exercise its crisis-management role. Similarities can be drawn with past crises as regards both short and long-term responses. The main difference to previous crises, for instance, in the economy or on migration, which impacted a limited number ...

The COVID-19 outbreak confronts the European Union with a severe crisis, affecting both individual EU citizens’ lives and society as a whole. Due to its role and centrality in the EU's institutional framework, the European Council is once again called upon to exercise its crisis-management role. Similarities can be drawn with past crises as regards both short and long-term responses. The main difference to previous crises, for instance, in the economy or on migration, which impacted a limited number of EU policies, is that the COVID-19 crisis touches the entire spectrum of policies at both European and national level, making a common response more challenging, as competences are divided between the different strata of the EU's multi-level governance system. Ultimately, this crisis has the potential to reshape EU policies, leading to increased cross-policy cooperation and possibly a centrally coordinated response mechanism.

Protecting the EU agri-food supply chain in the face of COVID-19

02-04-2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EU countries' governments have taken a host of measures, including reintroducing border controls and setting limits to free movement of people within their territory, in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease. These measures have had a pronounced impact on the EU agri-food supply chain. The EU food system is a complex web of inter-related sectors that ensure both the sustenance of EU consumers and the achievement of food security, one of the EU Treaty's ...

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EU countries' governments have taken a host of measures, including reintroducing border controls and setting limits to free movement of people within their territory, in an attempt to stem the spread of the disease. These measures have had a pronounced impact on the EU agri-food supply chain. The EU food system is a complex web of inter-related sectors that ensure both the sustenance of EU consumers and the achievement of food security, one of the EU Treaty's objectives. This system relies on about 10 million farms, several hundred thousand food and beverage processing companies, thousands of businesses manufacturing agricultural inputs or handling packaging, transport, storage and distribution, as well as wholesalers, markets and other retailers. When the functioning of any one sector of the food chain is hindered, the whole chain can be disrupted. For instance, as highlighted by sectoral stakeholders and then addressed by EU-level measures, recent national restrictions have contributed to problems such as blocked transport routes, long queues at border checks for commodity transport, and shortages of seasonal farm workers who can no longer move freely from one Member State to another. Specific schemes have been set up at EU level as a lifeline to farms and companies from the agri-food sectors that have been the hardest hit and are in greatest need of support. The European Parliament voted the first emergency measures to combat COVID-19 at an extraordinary plenary meeting on 26 March. Members of the Parliament's Agricultural and Rural Development Committee have put forward proposals on further measures. There has also been an overhaul of EU farm policy rules as a first step to address the emergency at EU level. How these rules will evolve further depends on the concerted efforts of all parties concerned: stakeholders, the EU and national policy-makers. Unified action at EU level is also required to complete the legislative process for the adoption of the 2021-2027 long-term EU budget and future EU farm policy, discussion of which has slowed down due to the crisis.

The ECB's Mandate: Perspectives on General Economic Policies

15-05-2020

The ECB has a clear primary objective to maintain price stability. The Treaty is less clear on how the ECB is required to fulfil its so-called secondary objective of “supporting general economic policies of the Union”. Just as the ECB was about to start its monetary policy strategy review which also provided an opportunity to clarify these elements of the mandate, the COVID-19 crisis brought the toughest test yet for its ability to deliver on the objectives. In addition, the German constitutional ...

The ECB has a clear primary objective to maintain price stability. The Treaty is less clear on how the ECB is required to fulfil its so-called secondary objective of “supporting general economic policies of the Union”. Just as the ECB was about to start its monetary policy strategy review which also provided an opportunity to clarify these elements of the mandate, the COVID-19 crisis brought the toughest test yet for its ability to deliver on the objectives. In addition, the German constitutional court delivered a judgement on the ECB’s public sector purchase programme (PSPP) which might bring further legal and economic consequences. In advance of the Monetary Dialogue with ECB President Christine Lagarde on 8 June 2020, the ECON Committee’s Monetary Expert Panel has prepared a set of five papers on this topic. This publication is provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON).

External author

Rosa M. LASTRA, Kern ALEXANDER, Karl WHELAN, Joseph E. GAGNON, Jacob F. KIRKEGAARD, David W. WILCOX, Christopher G. COLLINS, Christophe BLOT, Jérôme CREEL, Emmanuelle FAURE, Paul HUBERT, Grégory CLAEYS

The Impact of Covid-19 Measures on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights in the EU

23-04-2020

This Briefing was prepared by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs upon request of the LIBE committee Monitoring Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights. It focuses on the measures adopted by EU Member States to fight Covid-19 and their impact on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU. The Policy Department has monitored such measures and examined their impact in relation to: state of emergency and exceptional powers, the functioning ...

This Briefing was prepared by the Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs upon request of the LIBE committee Monitoring Group on Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights. It focuses on the measures adopted by EU Member States to fight Covid-19 and their impact on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU. The Policy Department has monitored such measures and examined their impact in relation to: state of emergency and exceptional powers, the functioning of national parliaments and of the judiciary; freedom of movement; freedom of expression and of the media; freedom of assembly; privacy and data protection; asylum; prisons; discrimination and vulnerable groups; other issues of relevance for Art. 2 TEU. The monitoring exercise reveals a series of areas of possible concern for the EU and the European Parliament. This exercise is notably useful in preparation of the first annual inter-institutional monitoring exercise in the framework of the new European mechanism on the Rule of Law.

COVID-19 foreign influence campaigns: Europe and the global battle of narratives

06-04-2020

The global health crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic – which is currently hitting EU Member States, not least Italy and Spain, particularly hard – raises concern that a combination of disinformation and heavily promoted health diplomacy, echoed by local proxies in Europe, could potentially pave the way for wider influence in other sectors in the wake of the crisis. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initially concealed information about the spread of the virus. Research suggests that they thereby ...

The global health crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic – which is currently hitting EU Member States, not least Italy and Spain, particularly hard – raises concern that a combination of disinformation and heavily promoted health diplomacy, echoed by local proxies in Europe, could potentially pave the way for wider influence in other sectors in the wake of the crisis. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) initially concealed information about the spread of the virus. Research suggests that they thereby delayed measures to alleviate the spread of the disease. At the same time, the CCP launched far-reaching efforts to silence domestic criticism. The CCP's efforts to restore Beijing's tainted image both at home and abroad include attempts to export the blame for the virus via a wave of conspiracy theories, in a move that seems to be inspired by the Kremlin's well-known tactics. At the same time, Beijing has launched a highly visible global aid offensive, providing expertise, test kits and other essential medical equipment – not all of it for free, contrary to the CCP's media offensive – to a number of countries, including in Europe. Both Moscow and Beijing seem to be driving parallel information campaigns, conveying the overall message that democratic state actors are failing and that European citizens cannot trust their health systems, whereas their authoritarian systems can save the world. Meanwhile, the EU – which has taken significant steps to help citizens both in the EU and beyond – has acknowledged the geopolitical components in what has been dubbed the 'politics of generosity', and is preparing to protect Europe against the next stage in these influence operations.

COVID-19's impact on human rights outside the EU

03-04-2020

In their attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world have imposed limitations on freedom of movement and other related freedoms within their territories, thereby severely curtailing certain fundamental rights. In the event of a public emergency, international human rights norms do allow for the imposition of limitations under strict conditions. Moreover, so far no other approach has been as effective in slowing down the outbreak, while also upholding the right of the ...

In their attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world have imposed limitations on freedom of movement and other related freedoms within their territories, thereby severely curtailing certain fundamental rights. In the event of a public emergency, international human rights norms do allow for the imposition of limitations under strict conditions. Moreover, so far no other approach has been as effective in slowing down the outbreak, while also upholding the right of the most vulnerable to health and life. However, some governments may be abusing the situation to suppress human rights and wield undue power.

Upcoming events

03-06-2020
EPRS online Book Talk | One of Them: From Albert Square to Parliament Square
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11-06-2020
CONT Public Hearing: Implementation of EU funds
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11-06-2020
STOA Roundtable on Digital Sovereign Identity
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STOA

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