The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge. The immediate priority was to tackle the health emergency. The European Commission took steps to coordinate a common European response to the global outbreak and limit the spread of the virus and its impact. However, the crisis has also put strain on the European institutions and solidarity amongst Member States, at a time at which cross-border cooperation to tackle a truly global health challenge is more important than ever.
As the crisis evolves, new challenges emerge. Member States must tackle the effects of containment on households and businesses and develop exit strategies to allow for economic activity to start again after weeks of ‘lockdowns’, while continuing to protect the health and security of their citizens. They are helping businesses stay afloat, supporting households and helping to preserve employment. Yet, these are only first steps in tackling broader social and economic aftershocks of the COVID-19 crisis.
The road to the economic recovery will be long. The difficult task ahead for leaders in Europe, and around the world, is to continue to address all these issues simultaneously. There is a tough balancing act ahead of us, which requires management of the short-term economic impact of the health emergency, while laying the foundations for what is coming next. The EU economy’s ability to bounce back will undeniably depend on the success of crisis response measures. Short term measures will need to be complemented by long-term policies and investments, the combination of which should support the new European economy that is both green and digital.
As we face the most significant public health and economic crisis in a generation, strong cooperation between government, business and civil society will be essential. We stand ready to do our part.
26th October 2020