Europe (Euronews)

Europe’s week: Riots, rackets and reckonings

By June 5, 2020 No Comments
Virus Outbreak Europe

While governments are debating when to ease which lockdown measures, patience among people is running thin.

In France, this impatience has turned into violence.

For several nights now, some poor Paris suburbs have seen clashes between protesters and police. At the origin was a motorcyclist who was injured by an unmarked police car.

It is clear though that the strict lockdown rules to tackle the coronavirus have only heightened social tensions. The cramped quarters in the mostly minority neighbourhoods are difficult territories even under the best of circumstances.

But under confinement and with dire economic perspectives they are becoming a powder keg.

More money, more problems?

To prevent the European economy from collapsing, massive funds are needed – and solidarity, as the European Commission reminded us this week.

“The point is we have to be all aware that the difficulties of one state very rapidly become the difficulties of all of them,” Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, told Euronews.

“So, therefore, we all have to come out of these difficulties in a coordinated and solidarian way. If we are not managing that, then we are threatening the whole project and this, I hope so at least, nobody really wants.”

The EU managed to sign off on an initial rescue fund worth €540 billion but have tasked the European Commission with a longer-term recovery plan. This will be the next great test for EU solidarity.

Family values

Whether anyone really wants the end of the European project is debatable. What about Hungary?

The country has a history of being at loggerheads with EU institutions over the rule of law – or the respect for it.

The government in Budapest used the coronavirus crisis to pass emergency laws that allow Prime Minister Viktor Orban to rule by decree for an unlimited period.

It also enables the government to drastically limit information about the management of the coronavirus crisis.

“A power grab,” cried the rest of Europe.

Orban’s foreign minister Peter Szijjarto has been defending Budapest’s actions.

A defence that quickly morphed into a declaration of intent regarding Hungary’s future inside the EU.

“We are definitely against the approach which tries to create a kind of United States of Europe,” he said.

“We definitely represent a position which says a strong European Union must be based on strong member states.

“We will be a member of the European Union and we are interested in the EU being strong, but member states have to be strong as well.”

United we stand

At the beginning of the crisis, the European Union was caught a little off-guard, as public health is the domain of the member states.

In the meantime, the EU has regained its footing, focusing on facilitating cooperation and coordination among the 27 countries.

The EU Commission has placed medical research at the heart of its priorities in the fight against the virus, providing hundreds of millions of euros. So how far are we from a vaccine?

“If we were working on a vaccine under normal conditions, it would take years,” said EU Research and Culture Commissioner Mariya Gabriel about Europe’s crisis management.

“But right now, we have at our disposal the instruments that allow us to progress at breakneck speed.

“Starting this week, we have set up a European data-sharing platform.

“Now, with this European data-sharing platform, researchers can exchange data in real-time: be it clinical data, protein studies, or DNA. That allows us to say that we can exchange data and progress more quickly.”

Love all

How about a little tennis to break up your confinement routine?

In Italy, two youngsters age 11 and 14 have taken it to a higher level: the roof.

They climbed onto the top of their buildings and then exchanged shots over guard rails and their street.

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