Energy renovations are a priority for post-crisis recovery plans, both in France, in the European Union and in the world.1 This urgency can be explained both by its rapidly mobilizable economic potential, its key role for climate policies, and by the importance of the fight against energy poverty in a context of increasing vulnerabilities. While proposals for France’s recovery plans abound,2 the challenge now is to identify the most effective levers for combining economic recovery with scaling-up of highly performant deep retrofits, which is a prerequisite for moving onto a convergent path with France’s national low-carbon strategy.
The German post-crisis recovery plan was unveiled by the coalition government on the night of June 3-4. With a total volume of €130 billion, and therefore much higher than initially expected, it provides for nearly €35 billion for climate-friendly investments, particularly in the transport sector and in the development of a hydrogen industry, partly based on the proposals made by Agora Energiewende.1 Although the initial assessment is rather positive, efforts are still required, particularly in the buildings sector, for the acceptability of renewable energies or the reduction of electricity taxation. The recovery plan as presented sends a strong signal regarding the direction the German economic and climate policy will take, as the country will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union as of July.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional layer of difficulty for refugees and asylum seekers, with frontline states like Greece facing unprecedented pressure in dealing simultaneously with a humanitarian crisis and the health crisis. The situation calls for EU states to speed up the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) since the current impasse is exacerbating the life conditions of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.
In fragile and conflict-affected settings, Covid-19 is increasing vulnerabilities and tensions caused by unequal access to already strained (and often inexistent) social and medical services. This is particularly true for young people – one in every four of whom live in such areas.
The measures taken to fight the Covid-19 pandemic are changing our daily lives. Many see this as an opportunity to initiate more sustainable behaviours, and even hope that this experience of imposed sobriety will be transformed into a real awareness in favour of more virtuous lifestyles for the environment.
The European project was built on the ashes of two world wars. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the most devastating pandemic afflicting humankind in the last century, may be its undoing. Or can it become the catalyst for building a stronger European Union for the future? The jury is still out.
Right in the middle of the crisis, Europe is in a state of shock. Italy, Spain and France, in particular, are experiencing an extremely deep sadness and a sense of powerlessness to help the most vulnerable, especially the elderly in our societies, despite health and social protection systems that could generally be considered better endowed and better organised than in other parts of the world. This deep moral distress goes beyond the question of how effectively different Governments have managed the crisis, and beyond questioning the policies that have undermined these social systems, although both questions will remain legitimate when it comes to learning the lessons of the crisis. The extreme vulnerability of the most fragile is bursting into our lives and into the public debate in industrialised countries.
Discussions about the world that will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic have already started apace. Many commentators are wondering whether the crisis offers the opportunity to set the world on a more sustainable and equal path.
The human impact of the Coronavirus is widely reported but new research from the Overseas Development Institute highlights the outbreak will have a significant economic impact on the world’s poorest economies – even if they have no confirmed cases. The Overseas Development Institute have developed a Vulnerability Index, which shows Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the Philippines, followed by Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Kenya, Malaysia and Nepal are at greatest economic risk.
Christine Hackenesch and Niels Keijzer (DIE) identify five concrete means through which the EU can further human rights and good governance under the next EU budget.