September 23, 2021

Europe

EUROPE: Managing the pandemic – what we are watching

BY Andrius Tursa, Antonio Barroso, Carsten Nickel, Wolfango Piccoli

<i class="fab fa-twitter" aria-hidden="true"></i> Share on twitter
<i class="fab fa-whatsapp" aria-hidden="true"></i> Share on whatsapp
<i class="fab fa-facebook" aria-hidden="true"></i> Share on facebook
<i class="fab fa-linkedin" aria-hidden="true"></i> Share on linkedin
<i class="fas fa-envelope" aria-hidden="true"></i> Share on email
<i class="fab fa-reddit" aria-hidden="true"></i> Share on reddit

Listen to our reports with a personalized podcasts through your Amazon Alexa or Apple devices audio translated into several languages

( 6 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.

United Kingdom

– The seven-day average of new infections appears to continue its movement around the mark of 30,000 cases, with infections somewhat on the rise again lately.

– Now that the US will lift its entry ban on fully vaccinated travelers from the EU and UK, it has also been confirmed that people vaccinated with Astra Zeneca – though not approved for usage in the US – will be let into the country.

– The global recovery from the pandemic is at least partly responsible for the rise in gas prices, which has hit the UK particularly hard; the government intends to react with a mix of letting some providers fail, supporting others with loans, while not ruling out a Spanish-style windfall tax on the sector.

Germany

– The seven-day average of new infections remains below 10,000 cases; at the same time, the share of fully vaccinated people is creeping only very gradually beyond the 60% mark.

– The regional and federal health ministers have agreed that as of 1 November, non-vaccinated people will no longer be able to claim compensation for the working hours missed due to a potential quarantine requirement.

– Given the time that might be required to form the next government after the 26 September elections, potential new rounds of restrictive measures might still have to be agreed upon between the 16 regional state leaders and Chancellor Merkel – perhaps already with the backing of the newly elected Bundestag.

France

– The seven-day average of cases has dropped to around 6,413. Around 70% of the population has gone through a full vaccination cycle, but the authorities are finding it particularly challenging to convince a large segment of the teenage population to get the jab.

– The government is planning to approve a draft law on 13 October to extend the use of the “health pass” beyond 15 November. At the same time, Paris is allegedly considering softening the rules regarding the use of the pass in certain areas of the country where the epidemiological situation has considerably improved.

– The center-right The Republicans (LR) party will decide on 25 September on the method to choose its presidential candidate. An internal opinion poll conducted by the party’s leadership shows members favor a party congress to elect the candidate, which could lead former Labor Minister Xavier Bertrand to participate in the process.

Italy

– The seven-day rolling average of daily new infections is around 4,000 – down from the 4,700 registered a week ago. Patients in hospital with COVID-19 – not including the 516 in intensive care – stood at 3,796 on 22 September. Around 77% of those above the age of 12 are fully vaccinated.

– Bookings for the vaccine spiked since the government passed a decree forcing all employees to show proof of a jab, negative test, or recent recovery from Covid-19. Italy also began administering a third dose of vaccinations to the most at-risk members of its population on 20 September. The doses will be offered first to those with suppressed immune systems.

– The government will likely spend EUR 3-4bn to protect consumers from high energy prices. Rome is also looking to review the way electricity bills are calculated to curb prices at a time when energy costs are running high. Energy transition minister Roberto Cingolani said last week that retail power prices were set to rise by 40% in the next quarter.

Spain

– Daily infections are at their lowest point since July of last year, with the seven-day average at 2,654 cases. Around 77% of the population has completed a full vaccination cycle, but the pace of daily jabs has substantially slowed down, with the seven-day average at 104,072 shots.

– Even though the Supreme Court has adopted a decision authorizing the use of health passes to participate in certain activities, the country’s regions – which remain in charge of managing the pandemic – remain divided over their implementation.

– The drafting of the 2022 draft budget is generating renewed tensions within the ruling coalition formed by the Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos, with the latter asking to introduce more substantial tax hikes in the draft accounts than the ones proposed by the socialists. However, an agreement between both sides is likely, and the budget will probably be sent to parliament within the next two weeks.

Greece

– Although daily reported cases of Covid-19 are down on a national level (the seven-day rolling average of daily new cases is around 2,300), several regions and islands had local lockdown measures imposed due to high local infection rates.

– While a persuasion campaign to get more people vaccinated has largely failed, the government is not considering making the anti-Covid-19 vaccine mandatory or adding more health restrictions. Data show that in the first three weeks of September, daily vaccination appointments averaged around 30,000 – less than a third of the peak.

– The eleventh Enhanced Surveillance Report on Greece issued by the EC on 22 September indicated that reform implementation continued at a good pace across several policy areas. However, the pace of arrears clearance has not picked up. The total stock of arrears stood at around EUR 900mn, exceeding the end- July overall target (around EUR 500mn) by nearly 80%.

Poland

– The seven-day rolling average of new cases rose to 667 (29% week-on-week increase), and daily deaths are approaching 10 (35% week-on-week growth). The government will start debating regional (powiat) level restrictions if the daily caseload exceeds 1,000.

– Persons aged 50+ and healthcare professionals will be able to register for the third vaccine dose starting 24 September. Meanwhile, anti-vaccine activists are becoming increasingly aggressive and are openly threatening government members.

– The government will increase spending on infrastructure, local administrations, healthcare, and higher education, among other areas, as the strong economic recovery is projected to bring in an additional PLN 78.5bn (EUR 17bn) in budget revenue this year.

Hungary

– While the seven-day rolling average of new cases as well as hospitalizations increased by 30-32% during the past week, the epidemiological situation remains manageable. The government is not debating any new restrictions for now.

– With 57.4% of the population (9.73mn) fully vaccinated, the immunization campaign remains very sluggish. Less than 20,000 of first vaccine doses were administered during the past week. Authorities are not taking any proactive measures to reinvigorate the process.

– The government has reaffirmed its plans to provide personal income tax rebates for families raising children. The rebates are projected to apply to around 1.9mn households and cost the state budget HUF 600bn (EUR 1.7bn). They are set to be paid by February 2022, a few months before the parliamentary election.

ITALY: Draghi’s “Black Friday”?

( 5 mins) All workers will be required to show a Covid-19 health pass from 15 October, one of the world’s toughest anti-Covid regimes that has already sparked riots and which may cause chaos in the days ahead.

Read More »

EUROPE: CEE PULSE

( 5 mins) Bulgaria‘s National Recovery and Resilience Plan is ready for submission to the European Commission. In the Czech Republic, the newly elected Chamber of Deputies is scheduled to hold its first sitting on 8 November. On

Read More »

UK/EU: Brexit tensions return – Next steps

( 3 mins) Following remarks by UK Minister of State Lord Frost in Lisbon today, EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic will on 13 October unveil proposals to simplify the operation of the Northern Ireland protocol. The EU will offer

Read More »