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COVID-19 Pandemic: Updates from the European Commission

It’s only natural that companies and individuals would be most focused on the local response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  However, given the EACC’s focus on European-American trade and investment, we also want to support our members by sharing with you some of the most relevant information and guidance coming out of Europe.  For example, on March 30 the European Commission released this practical guidance to ensure the free movement of critical workers.  This guidance comes as European nations create internal border controls to limit the spread of COVID-19, and recognizes that, in the words of Nicolas Schmit (Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights): “Thousands of women and men working hard to keep us safe, healthy and with food on the table need to cross EU borders to go to work.”  Also of note are the Guidelines for border management measures to protect health and ensure the availability of goods and essential services and the Guidance on the implementation of the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU

You may also be aware of the steps that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and the Federal Government are taking to increase the production of essential medical equipment and supplies.  Similar efforts are being taken in Europe, as noted in these questions and answers issued by the European Commission to help increase production of safe medical supplies, including PPE, hand sanitizers, and the use of 3D printing.

Finally, this pandemic is a significant economic blow to the global economy.  While individual European governments are taking significant steps to reduce the negative impact of the crisis on their citizens, the Commission is also developing and implementing a comprehensive response to the crisis, including relaxing EU fiscal rules, revising rules on how governments can support business thought State Aid, and establishing a €37 billion (~U$40.8 billion) Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector.

It’s worth noting that in its Winter Economic Forecast, issued February 13, the Commission had already identified the coronavirus as a ‘new downside risk,’ stating: “The baseline assumption is that the outbreak peaks in the first quarter, with relatively limited global spillovers. The longer it lasts, however, the higher the likelihood of knock-on effects on economic sentiment and global financing conditions.”  The next forecast will be issued 7 May 2020 and will be the subject of an upcoming EACC Webinar.

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