June 10, 2021

Europe

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching

BY Carsten Nickel, Antonio Barroso, Wolfango Piccoli

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Report Contents

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( 5 mins)

This updated weekly piece provides snapshots of how selected European governments are dealing with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want to discuss any of the countries mentioned in more detail.

France

– The seven-day average of daily cases has continued to drop and is now approaching 6,500. Thirty-one cases of the delta variant of the virus have been detected in the Landes department, but barring an increase in the number of hospitalizations, the government will likely activate phase four of lockdown exit on 30 June.

– Vaccinations accelerated considerably last week, with the country reaching a record 740,000 daily inoculations. The government is considering allowing the vaccination of 12-17 years old from 15 June to maximize the number of immunized students ahead of the start of the academic year in September.

– An ELABE opinion poll shows that presidential hopeful Xavier Bertrand will likely be able to win re-election in the Hauts-de-France region in the 20-27 June regional vote. Another poll suggests the center-right might also manage to keep the far-right at bay in the Normandy region, where Marine Le Pen’s National Rally is popular.

Spain

– The number of daily cases remains stable at around 4,100. The government has given up trying to impose a common set of restrictions on the activities of bars, restaurants, and nightlife businesses across the country following a backlash from some regional governments.

– More than 40% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and around one quarter has been fully immunized. At the current pace, the government’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the population will probably be reached in September.

– On the travel front, the government remains reluctant to impose new restrictions on UK tourists. From 7 June, anyone who has received full immunization from selected vaccines (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinopharm, and Sinovac-Coronavac) is allowed to enter the country.

Italy

– As Italy continues to ease its Covid-19 restrictions, the government is looking to address the question of restarting nightlife. With most remaining curbs soon to be relaxed elsewhere, reopening discos and nightclubs is now on the government’s agenda. Members of the public could be required to show a “green pass” health document to access the venues. The new scheme should be operational by the end of June.

– Emergency commissioner General Francesco Figliuolo said during a 7 June parliamentary hearing that Italy’s target is to vaccinate 80% of the population by September, including the 12-15y old. To reach that goal, the country would need to keep vaccinating at an average rate of half a million doses per day.

– The co-ruling Five Star Movement (M5S) has resolved a long-running internal legal battle, paving the way for former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to take over as leader of the divided party and try to revive its fortunes. M5S is the largest party in parliament, thanks to its triumph in the 2018 elections when it took 32% of the vote. However, it is now polling at around 16%.

Germany

– The trend of falling new infections appears to continue; after reaching a plateau briefly, the seven-day average of new cases now stands at around 2,800 – down from just under 4,500 a week ago.

– Major disturbances have so far not been reported, after the age and risk-based priority system for access to the vaccine came to an end on 7 June; previously, a run on the vaccine and fierce competition had been expected.

– The European Commission’s infringement procedure against Germany has no immediate implications for ECB bond-buying; the move merely adds another dimension to longer-term quarrels over constitutional limits to further (fiscal) integration.

United Kingdom

– The renewed increase in cases shows no sign of abating, as the seven-day average of new infections has now reached the mark of 5,500 cases.

– The outlook for the final round of economic and social reopening in England on 21 June is getting worse, but political pressure will likely render a delay of much more than 2-4 weeks impossible for the government.

– In high-level talks, the UK and the EU have failed to resolve their differences over Northern Ireland. Still, for now, another extension of the end-June deadline for chilled meat exports across the Irish Sea should be expected.

Greece

– The government will further ease the existing coronavirus restrictions on 12 May, when the nightly curfew will be moved to 1.30am. The curfew will end entirely on 1 July, and nightclubs, which remained closed, will likely reopen on the same date.

– The reform of the labor market currently being debated at committee level is expected to go to the plenary for a vote next week. The draft legislation has managed to create a rare moment of unity among the opposition parties as SYRIZA, KINAL, MeRA25, and the Communist Party (KKE) have all demanded its withdrawal. The trade union federations have called for a general strike on 10 June against the bill.

– Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit on 14 June. The meeting will be an opportunity for a frank exchange of views as the differences between the two sides remain significant. Avoiding flare-ups during the summer season is the priority for both Athens and Ankara.

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