Getting the pandemic globally and permanently under control is key to mitigating its impacts on health, society and the economy. This requires that a large proportion of the global population need be vaccinated against COVID-19 as quickly as possible, which necessitates global solidarity between states in the global North and global South and between societal actors worldwide. Global problems need global solutions.
In this commentary Pauline Veron shares her takeaways from a recent high level DIE-ECDPM webinar event, with some key lessons for health cooperation between West Africa and the EU.
2020 was dominated by a collective global crisis on an unprecedented scale, the impact of which was felt differently around the globe and in parts of society. And the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to cast its shadow this year. The fight against Covid-19 and the recovery in the economy and society are coming at the same time as several major events in international environmental and climate policy.
The end of 2020 seems to have marked the closure of a cycle of political turbulence that started in 2016 with the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. The European Union, which could have emerged from this period in a much weakened condition, has instead been strengthened, having established a clear long-term project for European societies and for Europe’s place in the world: the Green Deal.
Twenty-five years after its creation (as a successor to the GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade], 1947-1995), and following many years of paralysis, the stakes for reform are high. This is particularly evident during the post Covid-19 recovery period, as the pandemic exposes the structural vulnerabilities of globalised economies.
Africa has not been spared by the COVID-19 emergency. Beyond the immediate health effects, the pandemic threatens the world’s already fragile food system, with particularly severe consequences in Africa. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity believes that the solution lies in small-scale food producers and farmer-managed seed systems.
Although COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the economy, politics and health, it did not cause a fundamental change in the rules of the game when it comes to the EU’s limited role as a global health player. The block needs to address persistent coordination issues between the EU and its member states – as well as across EU institutions – if it wishes to enhance its effectiveness and credibility in this arena.
The ETTG note debunks some of the dominant myths surrounding Chinese engagement in Africa and unpacks the evolving relationship between China and the African continent. It starts by looking closer at common European perceptions about China-Africa relations. It then provides a brief sketch of the historical underpinnings of China’s engagement in Africa. Afterwards, it looks at how the notion of competition with rising global powers like China has influenced the EU’s relations with African partners.
In the context of a global crisis, access to reliable information is more important than ever. Limiting free speech and press freedoms can impede accurate understanding and hence mitigation of the crisis. Beyond COVID, freedom of the press and expression are foundations of any functioning democracy.
Populism has revealed one of its weaknesses, by displaying particularly ineffective crisis management. However, it is not clear that populism will be politically unsuccessful in the post-corona future. The ability of populists to mobilise supporters, to concentrate powers and to spread a narrative of the crisis aligned with their nationalist and authoritarian ideology should not be underestimated. They could show resilience by relying on a broader anti-globalist narrative, conspiracy theories and polarization.