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Covid-19: story of an expected emergency

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Real threat of a pandemic caused by a highly lethal respiratory pathogen“: this was the unnoticed warning that experts and scientists from the World Health Organization and the World Bank had launched as early as September 2019 with a specific report. The predicted situation today is real with the coronavirus health emergency, even if (hopefully) with consequences possibly less catastrophic than those configured: 80 million victims worldwide and a 5% loss of global wealth.

Faced with these anticipations published by universally recognised and accredited international bodies, Europe has not been ready in the simple application of measures already prepared to deal with this eventuality.

Because, despite the selfishness of the States that is emerging today, eroding the trust in the united Europe of its citizens, the European Commission had in fact already developed strategies for action some time ago.Specifically, two separate but complementary plans to help prepare the Union and its Member States to deal with major cross-border health emergencies and the emergence of global pandemics such as the one we are experiencing.

The first document is aimed at strengthening European preparedness for a coordinated response to a generic health emergency, such as the Sars outbreaks and anthrax attacks in the United States.

The second document, the one on pandemic influenza preparedness, applies the approach already outlined in the generic document and updates the Commission’s plan drawn up in March 2004 with the aim of helping Member States to develop preparedness plans, describing their essential components and encouraging the most coordinated approach possible. The document describes a coordinated response at European level for each phase of a pandemic, as described by the WHO, and identifies the tasks and responsibilities of the Member States, the Commission and European agencies. The Member States should have transmitted the information gathered, consulted and coordinated themselves through the European Alert and Response System, taken measures such as the deployment of antiviral drugs and the development of vaccines, as well as other medical response systems, and provided constant and consistent information to the public. What are we seeing today of all this? Nothing.

The various players in the European community have not been prepared for a plan to contain the health emergency, to strengthen intensive care to fill the existing gaps in insufficient mechanical ventilation, to implement unique protocols at international and European level. Nothing has gone as it should have. The international community appears confused and the European players have not worked, and are not working today, on a common vision of the emergency. Many national selfishness predominate in various national contexts.

Another chapter is that of the consequences for the economy and businesses. EU state aid rules also allow Member States to take rapid and effective action to support citizens and businesses, in particular SMEs, which are experiencing economic difficulties due to the outbreak of the global pandemic. Member States can design and develop comprehensive support measures in line with existing EU rules.

In theory, measures such as wage grant, suspension of payments of corporate and value added taxes and social security contributions can already be taken. In addition, Member States can grant financial support directly to consumers, for example for cancelled services or tickets that have not been refunded by various tour operators and travel agencies.

A key message highlighted by the various documents produced is the need to extend contingency planning beyond the health sector to include areas such as civil protection, transport, communication, emergency services, investment in research and laboratories, and increased international relations. European strategies are clear and detailed, but unfortunately the national egoism of the europea member states has not allowed such cooperation mechanisms to take shape and the international community seems confused and the european protagonists have not worked on a common vision of the emergency, they are working on it today. Many national selfishness and innumerable state reason visions prevail in various national contexts.

Another chapter is that of the consequences for the economy and businesses. EU state aid rules also allow Member States to take rapid and effective action to support citizens and businesses, in particular SMEs, which are experiencing economic difficulties due to the outbreak of the global pandemic. Member States can design and develop comprehensive support measures in line with existing EU rules.

In theory, measures such as wage subsidies, suspension of payments of corporate and value added taxes and social security contributions can already be taken. In addition, Member States can grant financial support directly to consumers, for example for cancelled services or tickets that have not been reimbursed by various tour operators and travel agencies.

A key message highlighted by the various documents produced is the need to extend contingency planning beyond the health sector to include areas such as civil protection, transport, communication, emergency services, investment in research and laboratories and increased international relations. European strategies are clear and detailed, unfortunately the national egoism of the states that make up Europe themselves has not allowed such cooperation mechanisms to emerge. And today Europe appears disunited and cooperation between the various Member States not existing.

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