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What is the European Parliament’s position on the situation in Syria?

The situation in Syria has been the subject of many debates and resolutions of the European Parliament.

Location Syria. Green pin on the map.

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In a resolution adopted on 15 March 2018, the European Parliament strongly condemned ‘… the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed during the conflict, and in particular the acts perpetrated by forces of the Assad regime, including with the support of its allies Russia and Iran, as well as by the UN-listed terrorist organisations’. Furthermore, it deeply regretted ‘the failure of repeated regional and international attempts to end the war’, and urged ‘renewed and intensive global cooperation to achieve a peaceful and sustainable solution to the conflict’.

Turkish military operation

The Turkish military operation launched in north-east Syria on 9 October 2019 led to multiple reactions from the European Union (plenary debate in the European Parliament, declaration of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, adoption of conclusions by the Foreign Affairs Council and by the European Council).

Following a plenary debate on 23 October 2019, the European Parliament adopted a resolution, in which it strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in north-east Syria. It also urged ‘Turkey to put an immediate and definitive end to its military operation in north-east Syria and withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory’, and demanded ‘full respect for humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, and for local and international humanitarian organisations to be permitted unhindered access’.

Although the European Parliament recognised ‘the fact that Turkey has legitimate security concerns’, it insisted ‘that they be addressed by political and diplomatic means, and not military action, in accordance with international law, including humanitarian law’.

It called on the Council ‘to introduce a series of targeted sanctions’, ‘to consider adopting appropriate and targeted economic measures against Turkey’, and ‘to consider, for the purposes of a deterrent to prevent a further escalation in north-eastern Syria, the suspension of the trade preferences under the agreement on agricultural products and, as a last resort, the suspension of the EU–Turkey customs union’.

Children’s rights

The European Parliament has always been a defender of children’s rights. In a resolution adopted on 26 November 2019, it expressed ‘its gravest concern regarding the humanitarian situation of children of foreign fighters held in north-east Syria’, and urged EU countries ‘to repatriate all European children, taking into account their specific family situations and the best interests of the child as a primary consideration, and to provide the necessary support for their rehabilitation and reintegration’.

Parliamentary delegations

The European Parliament has a delegation for the relations with the Mashreq countries, including Syria, as well as a delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean.

European Neighbourhood Policy

The European Neighbourhood Policy covers bilateral relations between the European Union and its neighbouring countries.

Through this policy, the European Union seeks to strengthen the prosperity, stability and security of its neighbours, based on a mutual commitment to common values (democracy and human rights, the rule of law, good governance, market economy principles and sustainable development). These values and the principle of good neighbourliness are established in the Treaty on European Union and are applied in the context of the external action of the European Union (Title V of the Treaty).

Syria is one of the 16 countries covered by the Neighbourhood Policy. The assistance provided in the context of that policy aims to directly support the Syrian population, both inside Syria and in its neighbouring countries.

Council’s response

The crisis in Syria led to a humanitarian response from the European Union in the form of financial aid agreed by leaders in the European Council, including through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis, also called the ‘Madad Fund’.

In parallel, the Council put in place restrictive measures against the Syrian regime and its supporters in 2013, most recently extended until 1 June 2020. Sanctions include investment and export restrictions, a freeze of assets and an oil embargo.

Further information

Keep sending your questions to the Citizens’ Enquiries Unit (Ask EP)! We reply in the EU language that you use to write to us!

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/07/what-is-the-european-parliaments-position-on-the-situation-in-syria/

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

Written by Naja Bentzen,

© metamorworks / Shutterstock

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.


EU Coronavirus Response

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.

Read the complete briefing on ‘COVID-19 foreign influence campaigns: Europe and the global battle of narratives‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Examples of false narratives trending on social media

Examples of false narratives trending on social media

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/07/covid-19-foreign-influence-campaigns-europe-and-the-global-battle-of-narratives/

Future EU-UK trade relationship: Rules of origin

Written by Issam Hallak,

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The United Kingdom (UK) withdrew from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020, and moved into the agreed transition period, running until 31 December 2020. The EU and UK have launched negotiations towards a free trade agreement (FTA) that will shape their future trade relationship. Both parties expressed a preference for reducing ‘trade frictions’ to the extent possible, and rules of origin will play a role in that regard.

Rules of origin (RoO) are provisions in FTAs that govern the conditions under which an imported good is recognised to ‘originate’ from the FTA partner country and becomes eligible for preferential trade. These conditions are restrictive – implying trade ‘frictions’ – to various degrees and designed product-by-product, following operation- and/or value creation-based rules. Importantly, the EU’s RoO admit the ‘cumulation’ of preferential origin across other existing FTAs signed by both parties. As RoO thus create incentives for manufacturers to allocate production and sourcing across countries, they are an important trade instrument.

The European Commission and European Parliament favour RoO provisions in the EU-UK FTA that are consistent with the EU template and protect the EU’s interest; the UK government has declared that it is seeking ‘appropriate and modern’ RoO, providing for cumulation across common FTA partners. The EU and UK positions therefore converge in favour of unrestrictive RoO. Nevertheless, the geographical distance between the EU and UK is short and the resulting shipping costs low. In this context, should the UK unilaterally lower its production costs after the transition period – through, for instance, lower labour and environmental standards, and State aid – less restrictive RoO will provide manufacturers with incentives to increase the UK share in the production chain, penalising the EU. This explains the call in the Political Declaration for frictionless trade ‘and’ the alignment of standards. Indeed, protecting EU interests implies that RoO are likely to be restrictive, unless the UK commits to aligning standards.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Future EU-UK trade relationship: Rules of origin‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/06/future-eu-uk-trade-relationship-rules-of-origin/

EU-27 support for national short-time work schemes

Written by Klaus Müller,

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The coronavirus pandemic is affecting all 27 European Union (EU) Member States, but not all to the same extent, although the impact could spill over onto those Member States not (yet) badly hit.

A common European unemployment insurance scheme has been considered as one potential response to the lack of stabilisation instruments under economic and monetary union (EMU). Short-time work schemes could provide such a stabilisation instrument, as well as a starting point for the implementation of a Europea n unemployment insurance scheme.

During the financial crisis, ‘short-time work’ (STW) schemes in Member States allowed firms to temporaril y reduce working time and to receive support from government or public employment services (PES) for the hours not worked. This instrument stabilised employment levels, by avoiding dismissals (even in cases where working time was reduced to zero), sharing the burden and retaining the skilled workforce.

A common STW scheme for the EU-27 could reinforce existing national schemes, and support them in the countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal fully respects the principle of subsidiarity.

Short-time working schemes in Member States

A majority of EU Member States have STW schemes, which differ in the way they are implemented:

  • Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal have relatively large (in Belgium, Germany and Italy) and well-established schemes.
  • In Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Spain, support for employees on short-time work is provided through ‘partial unemployment benefits’.
  • Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia and Sweden can also activate STW schemes (for Bulgaria, specific funding is needed).

Today, Member States without STW schemes in place, including Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Greece, the Netherlands and Slovenia, are taking measures to avoid dismissals, and granting support to workers and companies.

Existing STW schemes can be used if external events (bad weather conditions in the construction or agricultural sector and incidences of force majeure), affect economic activity. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, many Member States have now qualified the situation as a case of force majeure.

Short-time work schemes generally cover all employees, irrespective of their type of contract (full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent). Furthermore, in many Member States, apprentices and temporary agency workers are excluded. As a response to the current situation, Member States have extended the coverage of their STW schemes, e.g. to temporary agency workers in Germany. In Spain, employees can receive support regardless of the period for which they have contributed to unemployment insurance.

The use of short-time work is limited in time. The limits can vary, depending on whether work is fully suspended (i.e. 0 hours), or only partially reduced (e.g. from full-time to part-time). For a partial suspension of work, the maximum duration can range from three months (Belgium) to up to two years (Italy). In case of a full suspension of work, the maximum duration is generally shorter.


A Europe-wide evaluation of STW schemes 1 concluded that there are advantages in adopting such measures. However, only countries with pre-existing STW schemes would be ‘able to fully exploit the benefits of STW’, and ‘the effect of STW is strongest when GDP growth is deeply negative’. An STW scheme has to be boosted at the beginning of a recession and results indicate that STW is most effective when used as a fast-responding automatic stabiliser.

A short-time work scheme for the EU-27

A common STW scheme for the EU 27 could reinforce the existing national STW schemes. Such a scheme would limit severe economic crisis through its stabilising effect on disposable income and aggregate demand. It could ensure a stabilisation function, because the insurance scheme would intervene in areas where the economic impact is higher. It could also reduce the pressure on social policies and complement national schemes, when the level of current support is too low.

A growing number of workers are temporary agency workers, external collaborators, project-based workers, task-based workers, and workers identified as (but not actually) ‘self-employed’, for instance, platform-based workers. A European scheme could provide more universal cover than national schemes, and could also enhance protection for people facing a high risk of poverty, thereby strengthening the social dimension of the EU-27 and demonstrating European solidarity. Analysis estimates the costs of such a system (under four ‘shock scenarios’), to amount to between 0.6 and 0.8 % of the GDP of participating countries per year, with an estimated 20 % stabilisation effect.

European Parliament position

The European Parliament considers that ensuring compensation during a downturn has significant macro-economic stabilisation potential, as demonstrated by previous experience in the EU and the United States of America. A second important benefit is that this type of expenditure goes where it is most needed: to the countries most concerned and to support the capacity of households whose labour income is going to be reduced; it gives the economies affected greater space to invest where it is needed for long-term sustainable recovery.

In its resolution of February 2017 on the budgetary capacity of the euro area, the Parliament expressed the view that an EMU-wide basic unemployment benefit scheme would contribute directly to stabilising household income. Short-time working schemes could have more sustainable results, because they avoid dismissals. The workers would remain ’employed’.

Commission and Council responses to date

In May 2018, the Commission presented, within the proposals for the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF), a regulation on the establishment of a European Investment Stabilis atio n Function (EISF). This regulation envisages support for Member States hit by an asymmetric shock and/or increase in the unemployment rate.4

In June 2018, France and Germany decided to examine the issue of a European Unemployment Stabilisation Fund, for the case of severe economic crises, without transfers. While the intention was to set up a working group with a view to making concrete proposals by the European Council meeting of December 2018, there has been no result to date.

On 1 April 2020, the Commission made a proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of a European instrument for temporary support to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency (SURE) following the coronavirus outbreak.

Read this ‘At a glance’ on ‘EU-27 support for national short-time work schemes‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/03/eu-27-support-for-national-short-time-work-schemes/

Coronavirus: What should policy-makers do? [What Think Tanks are thinking]

Written by Marcin Grajewski,

© NicoElNino / Adobe Stock

The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread around the world. Governments have adopted preventive measures of varying degrees of severity. Analysts and commentators continue to call for a more coordinated response to the disease, notably at European Union level, without always agreeing on what the precise response should be. Meanwhile, some are beginning to try to envisage how the world will have changed once the virus is finally contained.

This note offers links to recent commentaries and reports from international think tanks on the coronavirus and related issues. Earlier publications on the topic can be found in the previous edition item in this series, published by EPRS on 26 March.

Monitoring Covid-19 contagion growth in Europe
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2020

Pulling through the coronavirus together: European and international solutions to the pandemic
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

Europe needs a Covid-19 recovery programme
Bruegel, March 2020

International order and the European Project in times of COVID19
Instituto Affari Internazionali, March 2020

The multilateral system still cannot get its act together on COVID-19
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

China, Italy and COVID-19: Benevolent support or strategic surge?
Instituto Affari Internazionali, March 2020

What you need to know about the Coronavirus pandemic
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

Covid-19 and European solidarity: The fight for who we are
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic: The EU must think and act globally
Centre for European Reform, March 2020

EU: Strongly united for health; Deeply divided on the economy
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

Is Coronavirus good for our sick planet?
Instituto Affari Internazionali, March 2020

Coronavirus and power: The impact on international politics
Egmont, March 2020

Why the EU will play a greater global role post-Corona
Friends of Europe, March 2020

Creating an EU ‘Corona Panel’
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2020

Coronavirus and transatlantic security: Implications for defense planning
Atlantic Council, March 2020

Route de la soie de la santé : Comment la Chine entend profiter de la pandémie pour promouvoir sa diplomatie sanitaire
Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, March 2020

Extending the MFF: The need for an ‘emergency’ 2021 budget
European Policy Centre, March 2020

COVID-19 Fiscal response: What are the options for the EU Council?
Bruegel, March 2020

Yes, medical gear depends on global supply chains: Here’s how to keep them moving
Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 2020

This time is different
Centre for European Policy Studies, March 2020

In a COVID-19 World, Russia sticks to international distancing
Chatham House, March 2020

The fiscal response to the economic fallout from the coronavirus
Bruegel, March 2020

Leadership in a time of contagion
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

Winning the peace against coronavirus
European Policy Centre, March 2020

After the pandemic: Why Europe must restore its economic and social safety margins
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

From G7 to G20: Passing three hot potatoes
Bruegel, March 2020

How leaders can stop Corona from undermining the EU
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, March 2020

How the coronavirus threatens a geopolitical Europe
European Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

What the EU should do and not do on trade in medical equipment
Bruegel, March 2020

‘Whatever it takes’: Getting into the specifics of fiscal policy to fight COVID-19
Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 2020

The COVID-19 crisis and reflections on systems transformation
Brookings Institution, March 2020

Does COVID-19 pose a threat to the EU’s climate neutrality efforts?
European Policy Centre, March 2020

Coronavirus and the politics of a common fiscal instrument
Bruegel, March 2020

Polling shows Americans see COVID-19 as a crisis, don’t think US is overreacting
Brookings Institution, March 2020

The Coronavirus killed the revolution
Brookings Institution, March 2020

Let’s emerge from COVID-19 with stronger health systems
Chatham House, March 2020

Wrong tools, wrong time: Food export bans in the time of COVID-19
Peterson Institute for International Economics, March 2020

The covid-19 crisis: A crash test for EU energy and climate policies
Centre on Regulation in Europe

The G20’s pandemic moment
Chatham House, March 2020

Five steps to combat the infodemic
German Marshall Fund, March 2020

Cybersecurity in the time of COVID-19
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

Will European defence survive Coronavirus?
Real Instituto Elcano, March 2020

Campaign foreign policy roundup: Campaigning amid a pandemic
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

Unmasking differing U.S. and South Korean approaches to COVID-19
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

Viktor Orbán’s Hungary: A new risk to the EU from Coronavirus
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, March 2020

Transatlantic take 360: Too early to say nationalists are winners of the Coronavirus crisis
German Marshall Fund, March 2020

Coronavirus: The world’s first digital pandemic
Cingendael, March 2020

The EU needs a more comprehensive vision to tackle pandemic
Carnegie Europe, March 2020

The multilateral system still cannot get its act together on COVID-19
Council on Foreign Relations, March 2020

COVID 19’s next target: Fragile states and emerging markets
Atlantic Council, March 2020

Here’s how to fight Coronavirus misinformation
Atlantic Council, March 2020

Is China winning the coronavirus response narrative in the EU
Atlantic Council, March 2020

L’exode sanitaire: Nouvelle manifestation de la sécession des catégories supérieures
Fondation Jean Jaurès, March 2020

Five steps to combat the infodemic
German Marshall Fund, March 2020

Read this briefing on ‘Coronavirus: What should policy-makers do?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/03/coronavirus-what-should-policy-makers-do-what-think-tanks-are-thinking/

Joint debt instruments: A recurrent proposal to strengthen economic and monetary union

Written by Angelos Delivorias and Carla Stamegna,

© Adobe Stock

The idea of issuing joint debt instruments, in particular between euro-area countries, is far from new. It has long been linked in various ways to the Union’s financial integration process and in particular to the implementation of economic and monetary union. In the first decade of the euro, the rationale for creating joint bonds was to reduce market fragmentation and thus obtain efficiency gains. Following the financial and sovereign debt crises, further reasons included managing the crises and preventing future sovereign debt crises, reinforcing financial stability in the euro area, facilitating transmission of monetary policy, breaking the sovereign-bank nexus and enhancing the international role of the euro.

While joint debt instruments present considerable potential advantages, they also present challenges. These include coordination issues and reduced flexibility for Member States in issuing debt, the potential to undermine fiscal discipline by removing incentives for sound budgetary policies, and the fact that adoption of joint debt instruments would eventually entail the difficult political choice of transferring sovereignty from the national to the EU level.

In the context of the current crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, joint debt instruments have once more come to the fore as a potential medium-term solution to help Member States rebuild their economies following the crisis. In Eurogroup and European Council meetings, the solution is not favoured by all Member States and alternative – possibly complementary – approaches have been proposed, such as a credit line through the European Stability Mechanism.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Joint debt instruments: A recurrent proposal to strengthen economic and monetary union‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/03/joint-debt-instruments-a-recurrent-proposal-to-strengthen-economic-and-monetary-union/

Repatriation of EU citizens during the COVID-19 crisis: The role of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism

Written by Martina Prpic,

Graphics: Giulio Sabbati

Girl boarding plane, back view

© fizkes / Adobe Stock

According to official estimates, the COVID-19 crisis has left more than 200 000 EU citizens stranded outside the borders of the EU. EU Member States have been making great efforts to retrieve them, often with the help of the EU. The priority has been to return EU citizens by using commercial flights, but as the conditions continue to worsen, other resources have had to be utilised.

EU Member States can activate the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to facilitate the repatriation of their and other EU citizens, if the Emergency Crisis Response Centre assesses that there is no better way. So far, at least 15 countries are reported to have requested the help of the Civil Protection Mechanism, using it to organise flights co-funded with EU funds, and so far repatriating 4 382 EU citizens (and 550 others), first from China, and then from a wide range of countries, including Cape Verde, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Georgia, Japan, Morocco, the Philippines, Tunisia, the USA and Vietnam. More flights are scheduled to bring people back from other locations.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism has been used more than 300 times to respond to disasters since its establishment in 2001. All the EU Member States, together with Iceland, Montenegro, Norway, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey, participate in the Mechanism, but it can also be activated by any country in the world and by certain international organisations. Once the Mechanism is activated, a number of steps follow. The Emergency Crisis Response Centre, as part of the Mechanism, decides on the best response and coordinates it. The EU funds up to 75 % of the costs of the deployment of resources. The 2019 upgrade of the Mechanism boosted the joint capacity for responding to disasters, including medical emergencies. It created rescEU, a reserve of capacities, which has now been augmented to include a stockpile of medical equipment for the COVID-19 response, 90 % of which is funded by the EU. On 27 March 2020, the Commission proposed to further boost the budget for repatriation and for the rescEU stockpile.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Repatriation of EU citizens during the COVID-19 crisis: The role of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Figure 1 - EU citizens repatriated under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, to 30 March 2020

EU citizens repatriated under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, to 30 March 2020

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/03/repatriation-of-eu-citizens-during-the-covid-19-crisis-the-role-of-the-eu-civil-protection-mechanism/

Global and regional governance: Initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Written by Elena Lazarou,

On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the spread of COVID-19 to be a pandemic, confirming the global impact of the disease. Across the world, regional and global international organisations are stepping up coordination to confront the medical crisis and mitigate its effects on economies, societies and individuals.


© cassis / Adobe Stock

Having characterised COVID-19 as a pandemic, the first ever to be caused by a coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged countries to ‘detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people’ and to demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the global health crisis. In its most basic definition, a pandemic refers to the global spread of a new disease. According to epidemiology researchers at Harvard University, 20 to 60 % of the global population could eventually be infected. At the time of writing, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been over 860 000 confirmed cases of COVID‑19 in the world and over 42 000 deaths, assuming that the data provided by governments around the world is accurate, a fact that has been questioned. Large-scale epidemics pose a severe threat to human lives and constitute an enormous challenge to economies and to public health systems, testing the limits of governments’ capacity and requiring a delicate balance between respect for international human rights norms and the need to implement restrictions.

Owing to the highly interconnected nature of the world, experts and international organisations, including the United Nations, the EU and the European Parliament, have called for coordinated responses at regional and global levels. The EU has, within the limits of its powers, responded to the virus by ensuring medical equipment is available, ramping up the search for a vaccine and helping Member States to withstand the social and economic impact. The G7 and G20 are continuing to coordinate their joint approach. While the extent to which regional organisations around the world are coordinating their responses to the pandemic varies, overall leaders have recognised the need to coordinate and cooperate in the face of the medical and public health emergency; to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on regional and global economies; to manage the movement of people for repatriation or epidemic containment reasons; to fight online disinformation regarding the virus; and to pool resources for the development of vaccines and treatments.

Global: G7/G20 action

On 16 March, the leaders of the G7 committed to work together in the face of the global health crisis, by: coordinating action on necessary public health measures to protect people at risk from COVID-19; restoring confidence and growth, and protecting jobs; supporting global trade and investment; and encouraging science, research, and technology cooperation. They also agreed to call on the G20 to ‘support and amplify’ these efforts. The statement meanwhile urged the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group and other international organisations to further support countries worldwide. G7 health ministers were asked to coordinate on a weekly basis.

On 26 March, the G20 heads of state or government met in a virtual summit dedicated to addressing the coronavirus pandemic. In their ensuing statement, the heads of the world’s twenty leading economies committed to working with all relevant international organisations, including the WHO and the IMF, to confront the humanitarian, economic and social challenges posed by the pandemic. Some of the key points of the statement refer to: sharing scientific, and research and development information; expanding manufacturing capacity for medical supplies and ensuring availability to those in need; closing the financing gap in the WHO Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan; facilitating trade and ensuring the flow of vital supplies and goods; and conducting ‘bold and large scale’ fiscal support. The leaders tasked the relevant officials with coordinating proportionate border-management measures in accordance with national regulations and providing assistance for repatriation. The statement echoed several of the main points put forward by the EU. Neither of the statements following the G7 and G20 summits addressed the issue of online disinformation regarding the virus however, in spite of senior officials having stated that the issue was discussed, at least within the G7. The EU’s Rapid Alert System has been used to share knowledge with G7 partners on disinformation. Jointly the G20 are injecting over US$5 trillion into the global economy as part of the measures to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.

Regional organisations: Initial meetings and decisions


On 10 March, the ASEAN finance ministers issued a statement on strengthening ASEAN’s economic resilience in response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. On 13 March, ASEAN senior health officials agreed to sustain and further enhance a strong collective regional response to the pandemic. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Disaster Management Center launched a website to provide information about COVID-19. On 15 March, leaders and representatives of member countries held a video-conference to discuss containment measures for the virus.

Middle East and north Africa

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) held meetings at the level of finance ministers (23 March) and undersecretaries of health ministries (21 March) to discuss the issues relevant to the respective ministries. The finance ministries agreed to exchange information via reports on a weekly basis. Apart from cancelling the March 2020 Arab summit, the Arab League does not appear to have taken any joint action at the time of writing. Experts attribute the League’s inability to address the coronavirus crisis to its design, which focuses on the preservation of sovereignty through unanimity.


In cooperation with the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on 20 March the African Union (AU) issued the Africa continental strategy for the COVID-19 pandemic. It aims to prevent severe illness and death, and to minimise social and financial disruption, by coordinating the efforts of states, AU agencies, the WHO and other partners; and by promoting evidence-based public health practice for the surveillance, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and control of COVID-19. The AU continent-wide approach was launched in coordination with other African regional economic communities. Health ministers from the ECOWAS countries agreed to harmonise regional preparedness strategies for prevention, early detection and control of the coronavirus outbreak in coordination with the West African Health Organization. In the south, health ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) exchanged information on the spread of the virus and agreed to coordinate preparedness and response.

Latin America

On 19 March, the Presidents of the Mercosur countries decided to coordinate and facilitate the return of nationals of member states to their countries of origin; to ensure the circulation of goods and services across borders; to consider the specific needs of communities in border regions; to consider the possibility of reducing tariffs on essential products and equipment; to share information and best practices and to coordinate with regional credit institutions (such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the Latin American Development Bank) with regard to the economic challenges generated by the health crisis. The statement echoed the declaration of the newly founded Prosul. The Prosul declaration also made reference to adopting measures to fight disinformation and fake news, and coordination of the joint procurement of medical equipment, within the framework of the Pan-American Health Organization.


On 19 February, members of the Council of Heads of Authorized Bodies in the Field of Sanitary and Epidemiological Welfare of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) States’ Population agreed to exchange information on the spread of the pandemic. Following the expansion of the virus in the region, on 17 March the Council, as well as representatives from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, considered anti-epidemic measures, including strengthening sanitary and quarantine controls, restricting movement of people across the border, restricting air traffic and monitoring people arriving from countries with adverse coronavirus situations. The importance of the supply of Russian laboratory diagnostic tools was emphasised.

Read this ‘At a glance’ on ‘Global and regional governance: Initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/02/global-and-regional-governance-initial-response-to-the-covid-19-pandemic/

3 Key questions on the potential of Social Europe

When we hear the word ‘social’, we typically think of social security, social protection or employment policies. But the European Union goes much further in the ‘what’ and in the ‘how’.

The social dimension also covers education, health, and cohesion policies. In addition, even the environment, justice, agriculture, trade, and the economy.

The social dimension extends to the processes the European Union puts in place for people to come together, take part, express their demands and look for solutions together through projects and programmes. Through supporting transformation and innovation, the EU can trigger a change of systems.

Listen to Nora Milotay, an EPRS policy analyst, explaining the issues in 3 key questions on the potential of Social Europe.

Or read more in our publications:

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/02/3-key-questions-on-the-potential-of-social-europe/

Collective intelligence at EU level: Social and democratic dimensions

Written by Nora Milotay and Gianluca Sgueo,

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Humans are among the many living species capable of collaborative and imaginative thinking. While it is widely agreed among scholars that this capacity has contributed to making humans the dominant species, other crucial questions remain open to debate. Is it possible to encourage large groups of people to engage in collective thinking? Is it possible to coordinate citizens to find solutions to address global challenges? Some scholars claim that large groups of independent, motivated, and well-informed people can, collectively, make better decisions than isolated individuals can – what is known as ‘collective intelligence.’

The social dimension of collective intelligence mainly relates to social aspects of the economy and of innovation. It shows that a holistic approach to innovation – one that includes not only technological but also social aspects – can greatly contribute to the EU’s goal of promoting a just transition for everyone to a sustainable and green economy in the digital age. The EU has been taking concrete action to promote social innovation by supporting the development of its theory and practice. Mainly through funding programmes, it helps to seek new types of partners and build new capacity – and thus shape the future of local and national innovations aimed at societal needs.

The democratic dimension suggests that the power of the collective can be leveraged so as to improve public decision-making systems. Supported by technology, policy-makers can harness the ‘civic surplus’ of citizens – thus providing smarter solutions to regulatory challenges. This is particularly relevant at EU level in view of the planned Conference on the Future of Europe, aimed at engaging communities at large and making EU decision-making more inclusive and participatory.

The current coronavirus crisis is likely to change society and our economy in ways as yet too early to predict, but recovery after the crisis will require new ways of thinking and acting to overcome common challenges, and thus making use of our collective intelligence should be more urgent than ever. In the longer term, in order to mobilise collective intelligence across the EU and to fully exploit its innovative potential, the EU needs to strengthen its education policies and promote a shared understanding of a holistic approach to innovation and of collective intelligence – and thus become a ‘global brain,’ with a solid institutional set-up at the centre of a subsidised experimentation process that meets the challenges imposed by modern-day transformations.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Collective intelligence at EU level: Social and democratic dimensions‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Source Article from https://epthinktank.eu/2020/04/02/collective-intelligence-at-eu-level-social-and-democratic-dimensions/