FIRST, SOME SOLID INTEL:
EU becomes budget trillionaire
Unlike POLITICO some sources titled last week, Angela Merkel is still not favoring Corona-Bonds (and probably never will). However, at the conference of the head of states and governments, Merkel advertised again for an extension of the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework, i.e. EU budget for 7 years). The bosses agreed on a package worth €540 billion, proposed by the EU finance ministers two weeks ago, which shall now be in place by 1 June.
While €540 billion is already not too bad, leaked documents of the Commission show that further plans on the recovery fund might extend the multiannual EU budget by up to €1.5 trillion. According to plan, the MFF still will be ready to enter into force on 1 January 2021.
Loosening confinements in Germany
From today on, lip-reading enthusiasts will have a hard time in Germany. Citizens in all 16 German States will be obligated to use face masks in public transport and while grocery shopping (except in Berlin, cause, you know, we’re the capital, and special). And shops up to 800 square meters have been open since last week (as we already reported). But, being German, thus risk-averse and super-cautious, we’re not out shopping. Shops are already considering shutting down again, since earning only up to about 10% of their pre-Corona revenues, with costs for staff and electricity being higher than sales shortfall when remaining closed. But, silver lining: From next week on, Germans will be allowed to go to their hairdresser again. #yay
And the refugees…
Not only are the right-wing parties at a loss with Corona, but the European Union decided that their favorite topic is not a priority right now. Which does not mean that it isn’t still there: There are around 18,300 refugees in the camp “Moria” on Lesbos (an island in front of the Turkish coast belonging to Greece). The camp was originally made for 2,700 refugees. Talk about social distancing…an outbreak of Corona would be devastating in those circumstances. To help, countries like Germany and Luxembourg admitted a small two-digit number of unaccompanied children from Moria. Looking at the numbers though, it seems more like a CSR campaign than real support. A quote from our very popular former German Minister of Social Affairs Norbert Blüm who sadly died last week comes to mind: “If 500 million Europeans are not able to receive 5 million or more desperate refugees, we should maybe just shut down Europe because of moral insolvency.”
For thoughts on nationalization of the German airline Lufthansa, climate change (yes, still a thing) and the decline of right-wing parties in Europe, check out the PDF:
IS THE EU BREATHING ITS LAST BREATH?
When reading the media in the last weeks, it’s easy to get the impression that the European Union is close to a breakup, lacking coordination and solidarity and a joint approach when dealing with the pandemic.
The European Union is a relatively young construct, a coalition between individual nations, rooted in and driven mostly by the economic rationale. The idealism of Europe as a nation, in the early days was little more than a nice gown to cover the individual nation’s monetary interests.
But those were the early days, and since then the European spirit has grown. In the last Eurobarometer poll over 70% polled, stated they feel like a citizen of the European Union, the highest percentage ever measured.
And when you look a little further than the headlines, you will see other stories. Apart from the financial programs being set up by the European Central Bank or the extension of EU budgets, the Member States and their citizens are showing hands on solidarity when fighting the virus on the frontlines: Germany, Austria and Luxembourg are treating patients from France and Italy in their hospitals. Doctors and nurses from Romania and Norway were dispatched to Italy. Medical supplies, masks and ventilators are being sent from less to heavily affected Member States.
Just some examples that we read about in the media way too little of, and that show that European solidarity is not nearing its end, and neither is the European Union. However, the continued patience of its citizens, who are forced to stay at home and social distance, might very well be waning. But that’s another topic…