The Brief, powered by ESA – Coronavirus: The optimist’s take

The Brief is EURACTIV's evening newsletter.

There is a joke. The pessimist says “The situation couldn’t be worse”. And the optimist replies: “Oh yes, it can!”

Let’s just imagine that the coronavirus pandemic is over and that the world has learned the lessons. For example, healthcare is better funded and researchers are well equipped and motivated to develop vaccines and treatments for novel viruses.

Self-isolation was the right answer, which helped medical services across the EU to cope, and the number of deaths was smaller than anticipated. Europeans discovered the forgotten pleasures of family cocooning, reading, rethinking one’s life priorities. They grew wiser. Some of us grew fatter.

In the meantime, the EU was quick in adopting an ambitious long-term budget with an extraordinary green component, and decided to palliate to all deficiencies revealed by the crisis. Strategic reserves in the EU are overflowing with equipment. Freedom of travel, after everyone realized that closing the borders in Europe is a mistake, is now sacrosanct.

And to take these decisions, leaders didn’t even have to travel to Brussels – they decided in a teleconference.

And many other meetings are taking place in front of computer screens. Administrations and businesses no longer spend on unnecessary travel. Europeans still take the plane for holidays, but the numbers have decreased for most destinations, Italy being an exception.

Satellite pictures show cleaner air even in the most polluted areas. These images are seen every day by all, as part of the weather report. Despite much cheaper petrol, many discovered they can perfectly well live without their cars.

The UK, which in the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak wanted to go its own way, is now fully aligned with the EU and is close to completing an agreement on the future relationship close to the recent proposal by Michel Barnier.

Across the Atlantic, the good example of the EU and the failures of the US health system have boosted the chances of Joe Biden to become the 46th President of the United States.

We could go on further. But this is the optimist’s take. Now, just imagine the pessimist’s…

A message from ESA: Sunlight and Sunbeds – Natural and Artificial UV-Radiation. The European Sunlight Association (ESA) – the umbrella association of European national indoor tanning associations and equipment manufacturers – published a White Book summarizing the current scientific data regarding health benefits of moderate sun exposure.

The Roundup

As the pandemic marches on, don’t miss EURACTIV’s comprehensive overview of the latest coronavirus developments, brought to you by our pan-European network of reporters.

EU lawmakers called on member states and EU institutions to adopt a more ambitious package to address the economic fallout of the coronavirus COVID-19, as the European economy is expected to fall into recession this year due to the pandemic.

Most of the drugs sold worldwide come from India and China, where production is cheapest. As a result, Europe’s supply of medicines is in the hands of a few companies.

While the West blames Russia for spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic with the aim of sowing distrust in Western public institutions and healthcare systems, an expert has pointed out that Russia’s domestic audience may actually be the main target of the disinformation campaign.

In Belgium, the coronavirus pandemic has lead to a small political breakthrough, as the main political parties agreed to grant the current caretaker government under Prime Minister Sophie Wilmes special powers for the next six months to bridge the crisis.

With a record abstention estimated between 53.5% and 56%, the French deserted the polling stations during the first round of municipal elections, held despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Commission tabled its much-awaited Climate Law in March, in a bid to carve into stone Europe’s objective of becoming the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. EURACTIV explains what the Climate Law does, how it works and what its criticisms are.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) decided to restrict how airlines can offset their emissions under a new climate change-busting mechanism.

Look out for…

EU finance ministers hold a teleconference later on Monday (16 March) to agree on a coordinated economic response to the pandemic. On Tuesday, EU leaders also debate coronavirus in a teleconference.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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