Tag: EU News

Wales Rural Network News Roundup from 2020

Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 – Scheme Windows



Glastir Woodland Creation

The expression of interest window for Glastir Woodland Creation is now open. The closing date has been extended to 31 July 2020.
There have been a number of changes to the application process for Glastir Woodland Creation. Important information on these changes is available in the guidance on our website.pollin


Glastir Small Grants: landscape and pollinators 2019

In response to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic the claim deadline has been extended until 30 September 2020. All claims must be submitted by this date.msbf


Micro Small Business Fund (MSBF)

MSBF is an investment fund for projects in the tourism sector in Wales. It can be used either to upgrade existing or create new high quality product.



Supplementary Guidance note for LEADER Local Action Groups and their Administrative Bodies 

LEADER is re-purposing its activities for the rest of the programme this does not replace existing guidance but there is supplementary guidance to assist.



Dairy Support Scheme

The Welsh Dairy Support Scheme application aimed at supporting dairy producers to maintain production capacity during coronavirus (COVID-19) is now available on RPW Online and will close on 14 August.



Live broadcasts to connect farmers with Farming Connect demonstration farm projects

As a result of the temporary suspension of its on-farm events this summer, Farming Connect will bring a series of live digital broadcasts from its demonstration sites to continue their engagement with farmers during the current pandemic. All events are scheduled to start at 19:30 and will be streamed live via the Zoom platform.



Consultation to tackle supply chain issues across UK dairy sector launched

A consultation to tackle supply chain issues across the UK dairy sector and provide new fairer conditions for milk contracts has today been launched by UK Governments.farmwell


FarmWell Wales

FarmWell Wales provides Welsh farmers with the most up-to-date information and details of support services. This can help them and their businesses stay resilient through times of change and volatility.fc covid

fc covid

Farming Connect – Coronavirus (Covid 19) “Whatever concerns you have about your business, this is not the time to shoulder your worries in silence, we will find you an expert who will listen to you and provide the confidential guidance and support you need either over the phone or digitally,” is the message from Eirwen Williams, director of rural programmes with Menter a Busnes, which together with Lantra Wales, delivers Farming Connect on behalf of the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. liaison


Farm Liaison Service

Confidential, one-to-one guidance and support. If you need to discuss any issues contact one of the Farm Liaison Service staff.



Welsh Government – COVID-19; (Coronavirus)

Keep Wales safe:

  • always observe social distancing
  • wash your hands regularly
  • if you are meeting one other household, stay outdoors 
  • work from home if you can

Stay at home if you or anyone you live with has symptoms.

Rural Payments Wales (RPW) statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) news

COVID-19 LEADER Activities

COVID-19 Business & Sector specific Newsletters

Are there any activities in your area to support communities during the pandemic, email any information to ruralnetwork@gov.uk.

Wales Skills Matching Service

A new online service, which will match employers with jobseekers looking for agricultural, land and veterinary work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, has been launched.

Food & Drink Wales – North Wales Economic Ambition Board 

We have produced a Business survey to focus on the impact of COVID-19, how it has affected local businesses and their industries with a view to understanding what needs to be done to spark and support a revival when lockdown restrictions are lifted.



Announcing Farming Connect’s Agri Academy Class of 2020 – waiting to zoom into action!

Chicory could hold key to higher lamb DLWG at Denbighshire sheep farm

TUCK IN – sharing insights on marketing in a crisis

Claw Bands Help Welsh Lobsters Stand Out In The Home Crowd

Welsh sheep famers’ opinions needed

Local food and drink website announced

Key local bus service to be maintained until December

New site highlights employment in crucial period for food and drink sector

Retail Figures Show Growth in Red Meat Sales



Natural Resources Wales consultation launched

A consultation on changes to guidance for assessing the impact of ammonia and nitrogen from agricultural developments has been launched by Natural Resources Wales and will close on 31 August 2020.



Preparing Wales website

Following the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 January we are now in a transition period; during this time, the way you do business with the EU will not change. However, you will need to prepare and make changes to continue to do business at the end of the transition period.



Grants Online

Rural Development Grants across the UK.

The National Lottery Community Fund

National Lottery Funding can help you to make a difference in your community.



EIP-AGRI actions on organic farming

The EIP-AGRI network supports organic farming by promoting and sharing innovative practices.

EIP-AGRI – Innovation Support Services

New EIP-AGRI video on Innovation Support Services.

Three public consultations on climate change

The European Green Deal sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.enrd


New LEADER cooperation resources online!

The document will be updated twice per year (next update scheduled for October 2020) and aims to provide information to LEADER stakeholders about the state of play of LEADER transnational cooperation in the EU, supplementing other relevant information provided by the ENRD Contact Point.

Pilot Project on Smart eco-social villages – final report

The final report of the Pilot Project on Smart eco-social villages, initiated by the European Parliament, is now available.

Rural, digital, attractive – digital solutions for rural areas

A study by the German federal IT Competence Office (ÖFIT) reviews challenges and success factors of 49 rural development projects which are pursuing digital solutions to improve local services and quality of life in rural areas.



10th annual European Algae Industry Summit

Date: 20/21 October 2020

Location: Reykjavik

What livestock has to offer to biodiversity and healthy soils

Date: 31 August 2020

Location: Portugal

Towards carbon neutral agriculture

Date: 09/10 September 2020

Location: Estonia

EIP-AGRI seminar: Healthy soils for Europe: sustainable management through knowledge and practice

Date: 07/08 October 2020

Location: Portugal

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

#PositiveCoronavirusNews – Housing Market rebounds as sales increase by 137% – #PropertyNews

Coronavirus: Housing market rebounds as sales increase by 137%


Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Brexit back in the News…

Keep promises or face no‑deal Brexit, Michel Barnier tells Boris Johnson


Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

#PositiveCoronavirusNews – Spain wants air bridge to lure British Tourists….

Spain wants air bridge to lure British tourists


Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Coronavirus: Health chief rejects study claiming Ireland is worse | Ireland

An American study that predicted that Ireland was already experiencing the worst Covid-19 pandemic is “unreliable,” said the chief Irish medical …

Coronavirus: Health chief rejects study claiming Ireland is worse | Ireland

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Italy starts to look ahead to ‘phase two’ as COVID-19 death toll slows

MILAN — Italy reported its lowest daily COVID-19 death toll for more than two weeks on Sunday as authorities began to look ahead to a second phase …

Italy starts to look ahead to ‘phase two’ as COVID-19 death toll slows

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Positive Coronavirus News roundup… #PositiveCoronavirusNews

  • Battersea Dogs and Cats Home reportedly rehomed more than double their usual amount of cats and dogs last week. Pet shops were also cleared as people looked for a companion for the lockdown.
  • British scientists have developed a new ventilator for the NHS in just a week – they hope the simple design will make it easy for manufacturers to produce en masse.
  • Families in America, Canada and some parts of Britain, have been decking their houses like it’s Christmas with fairy lights, decorations and inflatables.
  • Millions of the world’s poorest people will receive over 20 million hygiene and cleaning products, including soap and bleach, from a new campaign by Unilever and the Department for International Development.
  • A mental health company called Unmind has made their online resources free for all NHS workers to combat the impact of pressure and demand on staff mental health caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. They’ve already had 7,000 NHS staff members sign up.
  • A 96-year-old woman is now the oldest South Korean to fully recover from the coronavirus.
  • The National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal has raised almost £11 million since launching a week ago (Weds 18). The first £2.5 million is now being distributed to front-line charities, which will deliver food to isolated people, help people recover after leaving hospital, and protect vulnerable children now schools are closed.

Business News Coronavirus News Positive Coronavirus News and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See https://mikearmstrong.me/news

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Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Irish PM tells nation to stay home to slow coronavirus spread

DUBLIN — Ireland’s prime minister told citizens to stay home until April 12 to help slow the spread of coronavirus, only leaving to shop for …

Irish PM tells nation to stay home to slow coronavirus spread

Business News and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

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Brexit: EU-UK meeting to continue via video link

Copyright of the imagePA Media Caption of the image Michael Gove will not meet EU officials face to face for a whileA post-Brexit meeting between the…

Brexit: EU-UK meeting to continue via video link

Business News and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

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All the latest UK & Global Coronavirus News from the BBC


It was an emotional moment for those who took part – not least the NHS staff and care workers being saluted by the nation. The Royal Family and prime minister joined well-wishers who flocked to front doorsteps, balconies and windows on Thursday evening night to applaud those dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. It came after figures revealed the UK death toll rose from 475 to 578 in one day, with 11,658 confirmed cases.

There will be additional support for the NHS from firefighters, who have agreed to drive ambulances and deliver essential supplies if required. However, unions point out many are off-work in self-isolation. And, with NHS leaders saying staff feel “at risk” of contracting the virus unless they wear protective equipment while dealing with all patients, the BBC is told guidance is expected to be updated within two days. 

Normal life continues to be seriously affected. As vulnerable people continue to report problems getting groceries while in isolation, supermarkets are to use a government database of the 1.5 million people deemed most at risk to help prioritise delivery slots. Sharon Cranfield, from Surrey, tells us she’s reliant on deliveries because her daughter Jessica, 19, has cystic fibrosis, adding: “I’m terrified of going to the shops.” There are signs, too, the housing market is grinding to a halt, with transactions agreed before the lockdown falling through.

We dig into the detail of the government’s latest financial support package to find out what help is available to self-employed people. Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says the government’s response to coronavirus proves he was “absolutely right” during December’s election campaign that public spending could be increased .


The US now has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 85,500 positive tests – overtaking both China and Italy. However, the US death toll remains much lower, at less than 1,300. Some 8,215 people have died in Italy. President Donald Trump predicts the US will get back to work “pretty quickly”, calling the figures “a tribute to the amount of testing that we’re doing”. 

Back in China, where the outbreak began, the government is temporarily banning all foreign visitors to prevent a further rise in the number of imported cases. Meanwhile, South Africa has begun a three-week lockdown. And while recent numbers from Italy’s worst-hit northern region suggest the epidemic might be slowing there, fresh fearshave arisen for poorer communities in the south.

Meanwhile, doctors, aid workers and the United Nations say camps for the displaced in north-western Syriacould be devastated by an outbreak. Follow all the latest global developments via our live page.



EU leaders meeting on Thursday – by socially-distant video conference – glaringly failed to agree to share the debt they are all racking up fighting Covid-19. From her flat in Berlin, where she is self-isolating after her doctor tested positive for the virus, German Chancellor Angela Merkel openly admitted to the disharmony over financial instruments.

What leaders did agree on was asking Eurogroup finance ministers to explore the subject further, reporting back in two weeks‘ time. The EU is famous for kicking difficult decisions down the road but in coronavirus terms, with spiralling infection and death rates, two weeks feels like an eternity.

Katya Adler

BBC Europe editor


The Coronavirus Newscast team is joined by Sean Farrington, from Radio 5 live’s Wake Up To Money, to help unpack the government’s new measures to support the self-employed. And musician Charli XCX offers some tips on keeping fit, staying creative and painting rocks in self-isolation. Meanwhile, the World Service’s Science in Actionexamines why China’s strong social distancing policies seem to have been successful in stopping the spread of the virus .


Some front pages use photographs of staff at the Royal Liverpool Hospital taking in the nation’s gratitude for the work of the NHS during the applause that rang around the UK. Others feature the members of the public – and young royals Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – saluting the medical staff and carers. “Checkpoint Britain” is the main headline for both the Daily Express and the Metro, as they report police measures to enforce social distancing. The Daily Star describes those driving without good reason as “Checkpoint Charlies”. The effects of the virus on the property market is the big story for the Daily Mail, under the headline: “Don’t move home.” The housing market was “plunged into chaos” after the government called on people to delay moving home, the Times reports. Meanwhile, the Sun looks at the UK’s latest virus statistics to declare: “One Brit dies every 13 minutes.”



For more UK News, Global News or Coronavirus News please follow the links.

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For Business Advice follow the link or visit the Entrepreneur Zone

Italy sees jump in coronavirus cases to 6,820 as 743 new victims are added to death toll despite recent decline

ITALY’S coronavirus death toll has soared by 743 in a single day to 6,820 – just as the country hoped it had turned the corner. The total number of …

Italy sees jump in coronavirus cases to 6,820 as 743 new victims are added to death toll despite recent decline

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Latest BBC News update…

Latest BBC News Update including Coronavirus News


First it was advice, now it’s an order. Boris Johnson has issued a stark message to the country: “At this moment of national emergency… stay at home.” Speaking after the UK death toll reached 335, the prime minister introduced unprecedented restrictions on everyday life, meaning people must only leave their house for one of four reasons – to exercise once a day, to travel to and from work where “absolutely necessary”, to shop for essential items, and to fulfil any medical or care needs. 


Shops selling non-essential goods have been told to shut, along with libraries and children’s playgrounds, and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together will be prohibited. The restrictions will be in place for at least three weeks and police will have the power to enforce them, including through fines.  Read the prime minister’s statement in full and get a more detailed breakdown of the new rules.


The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, says it’s still not quite the kind of total crackdown seen in other countries, at least not yet – no curfews, for example – and there will be a time on the other side of this crisis to analyse whether the government made the right decisions at the right time.


A reminder here of the symptoms of coronavirus and how you can minimise your risk. And here we answer 10 of your most-asked questions .



The World Health Organization says the pandemic is “accelerating”, with more than 360,000 cases globally and more than 16,000 deaths. But WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was still possible to “change the trajectory” with rigorous testing and contact-tracing strategies. 


Many other nations have now imposed lockdowns along the lines of that in the UK. France is strictly limiting physical exercise and closing outdoor markets, and South Africa’s government is preparing for the worst. India is stopping all domestic flights, but there are particular fears surrounding one textile city.


In Italy, the worst-hit country, the latest daily increase in deaths was the smallest since last Thursday, raising hope that stringent restrictions on public life are starting to have an effect. The BBC’s Sima Kotecha describes the haunting experience of Rome under lockdown. 


In the US, where 481 people have died, state governors and city mayors are pleading for more help from the federal government. However, the BBC’s Anthony Zurcher explains why the president may be having second thoughts about following suit with a large-scale lockdown. 


Our live page has all the latest developments, while health correspondent James Gallagher looks at when and how life might return to normal.




It is clearly not a good time for the world and it is not a good time for relations between the US and China. President Donald Trump has repeatedly chosen to call the coronavirus the “Chinese virus”. The president and his secretary of state have both denounced China for its failings in the initial handling of the outbreak. Meanwhile, social media in China has spread stories that the pandemic has been caused by a US military germ warfare programme; rumours that gained considerable traction. But this is not just a war of words, something more fundamental is going on . 


Jonathan Marcus

BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent



The drastic measures announced by Boris Johnson are reflected in dramatic headlines. “End of freedom”, the Daily Telegraph declares. “Britain shuts up shop”, the Daily Mail says, while the Sun has a picture of a giant padlock with the headline “House arrest”. As the Financial Times puts it, the prime minister has been “forced to close Britain”. While there’s widespread support for the measures, there’s also a feeling that, as the i puts it, the prime minister has dragged his heels. The Guardian says he significantly “escalated his language” after days of being accused of “sending mixed messages about what the public should do”. Leo McKinstry, writing in the Daily Express, says the imposition of these “savage rules” will have been particularly difficult for the PM, who is “an optimistic liberal at heart, with a deep suspicion of the big state”, but he had no alternative.




Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

Europe & Global Coronavirus Update…

The European Union will ban travellers from outside from the bloc for 30 days in an unprecedented move to seal its borders amid the coronavirus crisis.

The measure is expected to apply to 26 EU states as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. UK citizens will be unaffected.

The ban came as deaths continued to soar in Italy and Spain, and France began a strict lockdown.

Europe has been badly hit by the virus, which has killed 7,500 globally.

Meanwhile, the Euro 2020 football competition has been postponed by a year.

The virus has infected more than 185,000 people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

What are the EU measures?

The travel ban will affect all non-EU nationals from visiting the bloc, except long-term residents, family members of EU nationals and diplomats, cross-border and healthcare workers, and people transporting goods.

Free travel is a cherished principle within the European border-free Schengen area. But in recent days many countries have unilaterally imposed full or partial border shutdowns in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

This prompted the commission to propose that the bloc act in a more unified fashion and restrict entry to the union as a whole, at the urging of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The measures were agreed in a video-summit between EU leaders on Tuesday afternoon and will now have to be implemented by member states.

“They said they will immediately do that,” said EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen at a press conference. “This is good, so that we have a unanimous and united approach [where] the external borders are concerned.”

The UK and the Republic of Ireland – which is part of the EU but not Schengen – will be invited to join the measure.

It was also crucial that the EU “unblocks the situation” with regards to closed internal borders, Mrs Von der Leyen said, because “too many people are stranded”.

What are the latest updates in Europe?

In France , citizens who leave home must now carry a document detailing the reasons why, with fines for transgressors to be set at €135 ($150; £123).

It comes after President Macron put the country on a war-footing, ordering the population to stay at home and only go out for essential trips.

The number of confirmed cases in France grew by more than 16% on Tuesday, reaching 7,730, The death toll rose to 175, with 7% of the dead aged under 65.

More than 2,500 people are being treated in hospital, including 699 in intensive care.

Boris Johnson:

In Britain , where the death toll is 71, people have been told to avoid social contact, work from home if they can and avoid all non-essential foreign travel. 

The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has unveiled a financial package worth £330bn ($400bn) to ease the burden caused by the virus , after Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday urged people to avoid pubs, clubs and cafes.

Meanwhile, the government’s chief scientific adviser said it would be a “good outcome” if 20,000 or fewer people died of the virus in the UK.

The latest set of Brexit talks has also been delayed.

The number of confirmed cases in Spainhas soared by 2,000 to 11,178. Authorities there are maintaining a partial lockdown on 47 million people.

It is now the European country worst-affected after Italy.

At midnight Spain began stopping cars crossing its borders from France and Portugal. Only Spanish nationals, residents and cross-border workers were being allowed to the country.

Everything you need to know about the coronavirus – explained in one minute by the BBC's Laura Foster

Italy , which has registered the most cases outside China at more than 26,000, announced another surge in deaths on Tuesday, from 2,150 to 2,503. The country remains in lockdown.

The government meanwhile is set to renationalise flag carrier airline Alitalia with a rescue package worth $670m (£550m).

Germany , which has had more than 6,000 cases and 13 deaths, banned religious services and told people to cancel any domestic or foreign holiday travel. 

Venues including clubs, bars, leisure facilities, zoos and playgrounds will be closed. Schools are already shut.

Elsewhere in Europe:

  • Belgium’s death toll doubled from five to 10 on on Tuesday
  • Sweden is to close all high schools and universities from Wednesday
  • Orthodox priests in Georgia have started blessing the streets of the capital Tbilisi with holy water

What is the latest elsewhere?

Iran remains the world’s third-worst-affected nation, after China and Italy.

More than 16,000 people are confirmed as infected and 988 have died, although some analysts believe the figures are far higher than officially reported.

A spokesman for the judiciary said on Tuesday that 85,000 prisoners, including political prisoners, had been temporarily released to try to combat the spread.

Gholamhossein Esmaili did not say when or how those freed would be returned to prison, but stressed that only prisoners serving five years or less had been released.

Most shops and restaurants remain open but the health ministry has urged people to stay at home.

In the US , the White House is working on a economic stimulus package reported to be worth some $850bn, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin saying the administration was “looking at sending cheques to Americans immediately”.

The total number of cases has risen to above 4,200, with 75 deaths, said the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most cases are in the states of New York (669), Washington (708) and California (369),

The pandemic has disrupted the Democratic primary election season .

In other developments:

  • China reported just one new domestic infection on Tuesday – but 20 more from people arriving from abroad. It also said it “strongly opposed” Mr Trump’s reference in a tweet to the “Chinese virus”
  • The Philippines became the first nation to shut its stock exchange indefinitely
  • Malaysia is barring people crossing the border with Singapore from Wednesday, sparking a rush on food stores in the city state, which depends on Malaysia for supplies
  • India’s iconic Taj Mahal monument has shut down
  • Scientists in Australia say they have identified how the body’s immune system fights the Covid-19 virus

For more on this BBC article or other News please follow the link.

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Irish Business News / IrishBiz – Prolonged Coronavirus Outbreak Could Place the Irish Republic in to a Recession…

A prolonged outbreak of coronavirus in the Republic could push the economy into recession, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has warned.

The think tank said the economy could shrink for the first time since the financial crisis if the country remained on lockdown for an extended period.

The institute’s Kieran McQuinn said that if the outbreak can be contained to a single quarter and “if by June/July things are returning to normal then the Irish economy should still register positive growth this year”.

However, if the issue and particularly the “lockdown” goes beyond that period “we’re looking at zero or even negative growth for the year”, he said.

For more on the Irish Times Article and other News please click the link.

Business and Sports News from Mike Armstrong – See http://mikearmstrong.me

European Business News / EuropeanBiz – Latest European Economic News After Coronavirus Impact…

Europe’s economy was meant to have a decent year in 2020. Factory production in the 19-country eurozone rose strongly in January, after a tentative truce in the US-China trade war. Consumer confidence was strong. Housebuilders’ order books were full.

The stage was set for a solid, albeit unspectacular year. The European economy would see “steady and moderate growth”, predicted the European commission’s economic forecast on 13 February. It also warned of clouds on the horizon, including a new virus. Noting mounting concern about coronavirus, as well as “downside” risks, the Brussels forecast concluded the outbreak would peak in the first three months of the year, with “relatively limited global spillovers”.

That was then. One month later the global economy is heading for recession, markets have taken a hammering, investors are panicking. Across the continent, shops, restaurants and bars are shuttered, supply chains frozen, football matches cancelled, theatres, cinemas and hairdressers closed. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index had its worst-ever day on Thursday, plunging 11.5%, after a blunt message from the European Central Bank president, Christine Lagarde, that it was the job of governments – not the ECB – to protect indebted countries.

The head of the European commission, Ursula von der Leyen, described the pandemic as “a major shock” to Europe’s economies, as she promised a €37bn (£33bn) fund to handle the fallout.

Attention is turning to eurozone finance ministers, who will meet on Monday, after the ECB disappointed markets by declining to cut interest rates as part of a stimulus package announced last week.

Having fumbled the eurozone debt crisis, can EU leaders now protect their economies from the worst pandemic in more than 100 years?

Italy, the hardest-hit country in Europe, is heading for rocky times. “Italy has gone through many crises, unfortunately,” said Lorenzo Codogno, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics. “The problem is that, coming from all these crises in the past, the Italian government is weak right now and the public finances situation is even more fragile, so it’s particularly dangerous.”

He is forecasting a 3.1% slump in economic output in 2020, or even 6.5% in a worst-case scenario – “given how the situation is unfolding, [the latter] might become the baseline scenario pretty soon”. The Italian government, which has said it is ready to spend €25bn to protect its economy from the fallout, has chided other Europeans for “beggar-thy-neighbour” policies, such as Germany’s export ban on surgical masks.

Italy’s banks are in a healthier position than 2011, when they were creaking under bad loans, but things could still turn nasty. To avoid a return to the “doom loop” – where potential bank failure risks the bankruptcy of the state – Codogno is advocating support for Italy in the form of an EU precautionary credit line.

Disinfection in process outside the Centrale railway station in Milan.

Disinfection in process outside the Centrale train station in Milan. Photograph: Claudio Furlan/AP

In France, the next-worst-affected European country, the government is warning of “severe” consequences for the economy. The outbreak is another blow, after a wave of strikes in 2019 chipped away at economic growth. France’s central bank has cut its growth forecast for the first quarter to 0.1%, down from a previous estimate of 0.3%, warning of a “severe but temporary” slowdown.

Germany is not as badly affected by the virus as Italy or France, but its export-led economy was the first to feel the chill of China’s slowdown. A survey for the ifo Institut last week revealed that 56% of German companies had reported “negative effects”, with a 44% slump in demand and 52% of manufacturers saying they were experiencing difficulties with supply. In response to the pressure on the economy, the chancellor, Angela Merkel, even suggested that she was ready to reverse the rule of maintaining a balanced budget – the black zero or schwarze Null – that has proved an unbreakable political orthodoxy for the government in recent years.

Speaking before the German government announced “unlimited” credit to keep companies afloat, the influential president of the ifo, Clemens Fuest, said that Berlin was “moving in the right direction”. He supports a temporary relaxation of the schwarze Null, noting that the black zero was a very good policy in good times, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of taking decisive measures”.

The German economist thinks EU measures need to be similarly targeted and “we have not reached that point” of needing precautionary credit lines for indebted countries.

The coronavirus fallout is likely to be uneven. “The producers of toilet paper don’t have a recession at all, and the restaurants and hotels have a very deep one,” said Christian Odendahl, chief economist at the Centre for European Reform, based in Berlin. Manufacturers, he said, have more hope of a “V-shaped” recovery – that is, an economic bounce-back as rapid as the descent – because they will benefit from pent-up demand.

Odendahl observed: “If you want to buy glasses now but you can’t because of supply chain disruptions, you will do so later, whereas a restaurant or a trip you just have to cancel.” For that reason, he thinks Germany could see a more rapid rebound compared with countries more reliant on tourism, such as Spain.

An opera is performed to an empty auditorium in Berlin, where all theatres are closed.

An opera is performed to an empty auditorium in Berlin, where all theatres are closed. Photograph: Peter Adamik/AP

But that should not stop European policymakers from taking “bold” action, Odendahl said. All companies “need liquidity help to make sure they survive this long pause of economic activity intact”. He also wants to see a European approach to help indebted countries: “If there was a time for risk-sharing, then this would be it. This is a situation where there is no moral hazard.” Here he is referring to the debate that raged during the eurozone debt crisis, when creditor countries declined to pool risk for fear of “rewarding” debtors.

Mário Centeno, the head of the Eurogroup – made up of the finance ministers of the eurozone – said that his members would come up with “a very large policy response” to address the crisis – greater than the €27bn Lagarde suggested was needed. Centeno expects ministers to agree fiscal measures that will ensure liquidity for companies, support unemployment benefits and help reduce hours for workers.

But it is not clear whether these measures add up to the “massive” economic stimulus plan that France is looking for – a measure EU leaders failed to agree to on a telephone conference summit last week.

Pascal Canfin, a French MEP and ally of President Emmanuel Macron, has called for a “European stimulus package” to be announced by the EU leaders’ summit at the end of this month (26-27 March). Canfin, who chairs the European parliament’s environment and public health committee, argues that this package must be aligned with the European Green Deal, a plan to transform the economy to meet the demands of the climate emergency.

In addition to using flexibilities in EU budget rules, the MEP said that a European stimulus package agreed on 27 March “would be a real answer to the problem right on the scale and right on the time”. It would “make sure the green deal is alive”, with spending to promote electric vehicles and energy-efficient housing.

But some EU countries think it’s premature to discuss this kind of stimulus. The European commission’s vice-president in charge of the economy, Valdis Dombrovskis, has sounded a cautious note: “In current circumstances, I wouldn’t be talking so much about fiscal stimulus, rather about crisis response.”

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