The Brief, powered by ENTSO-E – There is a deeper wave than this

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

The Brief is EURACTIV'S evening newsletter. [EPA-EFE/MARTIAL TREZZINI]

By Thursday, when EU leaders will hold their online summit to discuss the coronavirus situation, we could take a guess at how many of them will already be COVID-positive. The second wave, which was predicted but not averted, is sweeping through European societies and taking its toll.

In contrast, China, an authoritarian empire where the pandemic originated, is almost COVID-free, and no second wave took place there.

One doesn’t need to be a scientist to conclude that strict discipline is the best tool for containing a virus against which we have no vaccine or straightforward treatment, and that our pampered societies will not accept strict lockdown in the longer term.

When we all accepted to stay home around the clock for a couple of months after mid-March, it was out of fear of the unknown. The virus is still the same, but fear is a human feeling that doesn’t last too long and often gets replaced by foolish bravery.

Culturally, Europeans cannot withstand too many restrictions, as constraints also fuel anti-systemic ideas such as the anti-mask or anti-vaccine movements. The governments hate to ask for more sacrifice, such as curfews, because of the predictable political backlash against such measures.

So European leaders fear a (perhaps) deeper wave – that of mass disobedience and of contempt for the establishment, which may turn out to be more destructive for Europe than the virus itself.

In the meantime, even though the virus itself is not particularly deadly, we run the risk that our hospitals will soon no longer be able to adequately treat COVID patients, or any other patients requiring a hospital stay. A complete collapse of our health systems is also on the cards.

And in the meantime, a flurry of uncoordinated national measures risk harming European economies in a way that is worse than during the first wave, which already shaved off a decent percentage of economic output across the world.

This cacophony of measures is at least something leaders could discuss – and hopefully agree some measures to save our economies.

Saving our lives will largely depend on us. Stay safe and read EURACTIV.

A message from ENTSO-E: 4th RSC Conference: “Securing future power systems with digital cooperation” – 24 November 2020. The RSC Conference 2020, co-organised by the Baltic RSC and ENTSO-E as a digital event, will focus on the digital dimension of the TSOs’ regional coordination and on the challenges arising from the integration of large-scale renewable energy sources and offshore deployment. The event will also host discussions on the implementation of the Clean Energy Package, on the EU Green Deal, and on the impact of COVID-19. Register to the Conference here

The Roundup

The leader of the European People’s Party, Donald Tusk, said the Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov had “confessed” to him about a scandal with leaked photos allegedly revealing his hidden wealth. Tusk revealed no details but said that what he had heard sounded like “a crime movie”.

Air quality on flights is due to improve if the European Union agrees to back new safety standards. The fresh push for cleaner air comes as transport companies struggle to convince passengers their services are low risk in the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

EU Council presidency conclusions on Artificial Intelligence and human rights failed to secure unanimous backing from member states last week after Poland refused to support a text due to opposing the inclusion of the term ‘gender equality,’ EURACTIV has learned.

France believes that regulation on online content as part of the upcoming Digital Services Act (DSA) should not be restricted solely to illegal material, but should also cover areas including disinformation and harmful content, documents obtained by EURACTIV reveal.

The European Commission “will not stand in the way” of countries that choose to build new nuclear power stations, said EU climate chief Frans Timmermans, who warned, however, about the life-cycle costs of the technology, “which means that you will be stuck with it for a long, long, long time”.

Japan will join the EU in aiming for net-zero emissions by 2050, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced.

As the coronavirus looks set to accelerate the meeting of the digital and mobility worlds, policy-makers and legislators will have to make sure it is a happy union and not an ugly crash.

Look out for…

  • European Parliament’s INGE, PECH, CULT, AGRI, LIBE, BECA, AIDA Committees

Views are the author’s

Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic

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