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Online event

Friday, 27 March 2020


Fabian Zuleeg
Chief Executive, European Policy Centre
Janis Emmanouilidis
Director of Studies, European Policy Centre


Jacki Davis
Meade Davis Communications (Moderator)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the extraordinary measures in place and the pace of developments, not least the European Council's decision to hold weekly teleconferences in response to the ongoing crisis, the EPC is introducing a new weekly update to keep its members informed about the latest developments on COVID-19 and the implications for Europe's economy, society, global role, and EU politics in general. 

Every Friday, our senior analysts share with you online their assessment of the latest developments, evaluate emerging and ongoing measures at EU and member state level, and consider what they mean for the Union's longer-term future. 

At this first Friday Update, Janis A. Emmanouilidis, EPC Director of Studies, and Fabian Zuleeg, EPC Chief Executive, analyzed the overall state of affairs and Europe's response to the crisis and the outcome of the European Council teleconference of 26 March 2020. Jacki Davis moderated the discussion. 

Emmanoulidis and Zuleeg assessed the different tools to combat the economic fallout of the crisis, which were at the centre of the debate in the Council meeting, such as using the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and the idea of 'Coronabonds'. Emmanouilidis warned against member states "falling into old reflexes" from the financial crisis, considering we are dealing with a completely new situation. 

They also spent time on the idea of a so-called EU exit strategy. Zuleeg explained that EU leaders should move away from the notion that this crisis will 'end' and that things will return to normal soon. The situation will probably oscalelate between immediate crisis and milder but still sustained disruption, and differentiate from country to country, even region to region. He instead called for a risk management strategy for the whole Union: "It is not simply about a coordinated exit strategy. It is about changing the way we react and manage current and future crises."

Finally, they discussed the potential impact of the pandemic on the EU budget (MFF) and the Brexit negotiations in particular. Zuleeg argued that getting a deal on a new EU budget now is highly unlikely and that EU leaders should extend the current MFF to 2021. He applied the same argument - that extraordinary times ask for extraordinary measures - to the current Brexit negotiations, saying that an extension to the transition period is an absolute must. 

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