Brussels Edition: Learning Greek

Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union

(Bloomberg)

For most of the euro area, a recession of the magnitude that’s forecast for this year is a very rare event. For Greece, not so much. Here are a few tips on how to manage the looming slump, from the country which wrote the book on depressions. One key takeaway is that such crises can exacerbate euroskepticism and fuel populism if the rest of the EU is seen as insensitive and unhelpful. That’s why you keep seeingideas on how to share the costs of cushioning the economic blow from the coronavirus pandemic, such as the latest plans by the European Commission and France. Of course, the challenge remains of persuading the continent’s wary North — and especially Germany — to agree to any form of liability-sharing.

What’s Happening

Virus Update | There are signs that the worst may soon be over at the epicenter of Europe’s coronavirus crisis. The death rate is easing in Italy as growth in new cases moderates, and while daily fatalities are still rising in Spain and Britain, the virus appears to be spreading more slowly in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and other countries. Here’s the latest.

Eastern Front | The EU’s top court will today decide on the European Commission’s 2017 lawsuits against Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic for failing to shelter refugees in line with national quotas. The three nations were among the loudest critics of relocating or resettling migrants, mostly from Italy and Greece, which in 2015 bore the brunt of arrivals.

Admonishing Orban | In an apparent rebuke of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a group of western EU nations urged governments to exercise restraint when adopting emergency measures to deal with the coronavirus. The 13 countries — including France and Germany — said in a joint statement that they’re “deeply concerned about the risk of violations of the principles of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights.”

Vouchers Trouble | Those of you who had flights canceled because of the pandemic have likely received a voucher to buy a new ticket instead of your money back. The thing is, EU rules say that you are entitled to a cash reimbursement and that’s a legal headache for battered airlines.

NATO Meeting | The North Atlantic Treaty Organization holds its first-ever ministerial meeting by video conference today as a result of the coronavirus, which is also the main topic on the agenda. NATO foreign ministers will discuss ways to accelerate and expand logistical support for member nations fighting to curb new infections, while Russia also remains firmly in focus.

Green Flop | Ursula von der Leyen’s landmark pledge to ensure there would be no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is already under threat, just three months after it was made. It’s down to the coronavirus, and here’s why.

>>> News in English <<<

In Case You Missed It

Blame Flu | Italy’s health ministry may have the answer to why its coronavirus death count has been so high compared to other countries: flu, or the lack of it. The 2019-2020 flu season killed fewer older Italians than average, meaning that there was a bigger target for the new virus in February and March. Here’s what they found out.

Debt Crisis | Less than a decade ago, the euro area was on the verge of ripping apart at the seams during the sovereign debt crisis, and now we could be headed back there again, according to ECB policy maker Yannis Stournaras. In an interview with Bloomberg, he stressed the need for a common fiscal response, in particular “coronabonds.” And what are they?

Trade Dependence | Germany is among the countries likely to be hardest hit by the virus-induced hit to trade, given its dependence on foreign demand for German machinery, cars and pharmaceutical goods, according to a report from ING. Even in Sweden, one of the few countries in Europe to adopt a laissez-faire model to tackling the crisis, bankruptcies among hotels and restaurants soared 123% in March.

Ruined Arts | The Edinburgh Fringe, which bills itself as the world’s largest arts festival, became the latest event to be canceled. The festival, which started in 1947, usually attracts tens of thousands of people to Scotland’s capital, packing everywhere from spare rooms to hotels and restaurants. Fans of cabaret, dance and comedy will have to wait until next year.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 10:30 a.m. The European Parliament Internal Market committee will hold an extraordinary meeting to have an exchange of views with EU Industry Commissioner Breton on the EU response to the virus outbreak
  • 11:30 a.m. French Finance Minister Le Maire holds a press conference ahead of the next Eurogroup meeting
  • 11:30 a.m. Meeting of the European Parliament Conference of Presidents with Parliament President Sassoli
  • Press conference by European Commission President von der Leyen on the Commission’s Sure proposals
  • NATO foreign affairs ministers video conference
  • EU's top court rules whether Amazon.com Inc. could be liable for storing unauthorized products in its warehouses before they’re sold by other retailers on its platform, in a clash with Coty Inc.
  • EU's top court rules on a suit the European Commission brought against Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, accusing them of failing to comply with the EU’s decision to shelter refugees in line with national quotas
  • EU's top court gives a non-binding opinion in a challenge by an Austrian consumer association that sued Volkswagen in a local court for 3.6 million euros in compensation for having manipulated software
  • EU's top court gives a non-binding opinion in a German dispute over how far Google’s YouTube video platform can go to hand over information that might identify people who post copyright-infringing films
 
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Total number of coronavirus cases announced by Cyprus authorities exceeds 1000, three new confirmed on Saturday
Cyprus authorities announced on Saturday three new confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases after conducting 1,699 lab tests. This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 1,002.
 
One of the persons found positive is Apollon FC football player Djordje Denic, who arrived to the island from Serbia three days ago and underwent a test at the football team’s initiative. The football club issued a press release announcing that the football player tested positive.
 
The other two cases concern people who came into contact with other two confirmed cases announced on June 29 and June 30, as they work with them. The first person found positive, out of these four cases, had come to Cyprus from the US.  The tests for the two persons announced as positive cases today were carried out at the initiative of the company which employees them.
 
A press release issued by the Ministry of Health said that all three positive cases announced on Saturday were detected out of 329 lab tests carried out at the private initiative.  
 
Moreover no positive cases were detected from 157 lab tests carried out in the framework of the programme for checking 10,000 employees who went back to work during phase B and C of easing restrictive measures, from 24 lab tests completed as part of the contact tracing programme, from 834 samples taken from passengers and repatriates, from 97 tests carried out by the Microbiological Labs of  the General Hospitals and from 249 lab tests completed as part of referrals from personal doctors and special groups screening through the public health centres.
 
One patient is currently being treated at Famagusta General Hospital which is the Covid-19 Reference Hospital.

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