Brussels Edition: Rescue Response

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


Faced with an unprecedented recession, the EU is working overtime to come up with a joint response to complement the extraordinary stimulus already unleashed by national governments and central banks. Its key planks are taking shape and include the euro area’s bailout fund, the European Investment Bank and an EU-wide unemployment reinsurance. But senior finance ministry officials discussing this response today will be faced with a tricky dilemma: are these measures sufficient to deal with the crisis at hand, or is it time to finally leave behind old taboos and put some kind of joint debt issuance on the table?

What’s Happening

Virus Update | A slowdown in the rate of deaths in Spain and Italy continued over the weekend, with Spain registering a fall for the third consecutive day and Italy reporting the lowest single-day coronavirus deaths in over two weeks. In the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital after failing to shake off the virus 10 days after being diagnosed.

Defense Debate | EU defense ministers will today discuss how can they maintain the bloc’s military presence abroad as the virus spreads in areas of deployment, and how armies can assist governments in what increasingly looks like a wartime effort. Crucially, ministers will have a first debate about the geopolitical implications of the pandemic, which is changing the shape of our world. 

Insolvency Laws | European governments are ripping up their insolvency laws to stem the tide of companies set to collapse over the Covid-19 pandemic. But for many businesses it may be too little too late, Katie Linsell reports.

Search for a Cure | The huge field of potential treatments represents an almost unparalleled mobilization of medical science. The downside? Pharmaceutical-research experts are raising concerns that attempts to offer desperate coronavirus patients some form of treatment may hobble crucial studies to find drugs that really work.

In Case You Missed It

Airline Refunds | The fight to survive the Covid-19 crisis is pitting airlines against their customers. There’s been conflicting guidance from EU regulators — who insist airlines must offer cash refunds for canceled flights, should passengers ask — and countries that have loosened rules to prevent airlines from collapsing. So the big question is: will you get your money back? 

Privacy Predicament | EU governments have pushed the bloc’s stringent data-privacy rules to their limits by tapping the biggest telecom and tech companies for information to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. Data sharing is helping government officials fight the spread of the illness but also putting privacy experts on edge. 

Italy’s Fate | It may lack the allure of Rome or Venice, but Italy’s economic engine will drive its post-virus recovery. Here’s why the fate of Milan will be the fate of the country.

Keeping Your Religion | Easter, Ramadan and Passover are all celebrated this month, and religious leaders find themselves giving thanks to the internet. With roughly half the world locked down, keeping the communal spirit will be a struggle. But the pandemic, however painfully, has breathed fresh meaning into these holidays, all rooted in hardship and renewal. 

Chart of the Day

Sweden’s experiment has drawn international bewilderment as schools, restaurants and cafes have remained open, and the government relies on the common sense of its citizens to carry the country through the pandemic. But with much of the rest of the world in lockdown, Sweden’s efforts to keep its economy open aren’t doing much to shield it from recession.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 10 a.m. Video conference of EU justice ministers
  • Euro Working Group of senior EU finance ministry officials discuss details of bloc’s plan for an economic response to the pandemic
  • Video conference of EU defense ministers to discuss military implications of the Covid-19 pandemic