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COVID-19

Europeans harden views towards US and EU after pandemic

"Trust in Trump's America is gone." The coronavirus crisis has caused a dramatic deterioration in the European public perception of the US and left many believing the EU had become "irrelevant", new polling finds.

Europeans harden views towards US and EU after pandemic
Europeans have hardened their views of the US. Photo: AFP

The new survey by the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR) says the pandemic has traumatised Europeans and left them “feeling alone and vulnerable”.

The survey studied the views of Europeans towards the EU and notably its response to the coronavirus crisis and the results did not make for positive reading.

“There is a powerful sense among citizens of almost all surveyed member states that their country was largely left to fend for itself in dealing with the pandemic,” read the study.

“Few respondents to the survey had a positive view of the EU's coronavirus response. In no surveyed country do a majority of them see a positive change in the performance of EU institutions during the crisis,” the survey found.

Some 63 percent of Italians, 61 percent of French people, and 52 percent of Spaniards said that the EU has not lived up to its responsibilities. 

“Finally, and perhaps most damningly of all, a large plurality (and, in some cases, a majority) in every surveyed member state described the EU as having slipped into irrelevance in the coronavirus crisis,” it said.

But that did not mean there is an increased desire to see the European project fail.

In fact a majority in all countries surveyed believed there was a need for greater European cooperation after the pandemic.

“The share of respondents who held this belief was as high as 91 percent in Portugal and 80 percent in Spain. But perhaps even more noteworthy was the response in less Europhile member states. In France, Sweden, and Denmark, more than half of respondents approved of greater cooperation at the European level. In Italy, 77 percent did,” read the survey.

The survey revealed that one of the impacts of the crisis was the desire by many Europeans to see greater border controls.

“A substantial share of the population in surveyed countries – ranging from 48 percent in Denmark to 73 percent in Portugal – supports stricter border controls. This is a powerful signal of Europeans' current sense of vulnerability,” it read.

Europe's views of US deteriorate

 

Strikingly the survey also revealed a steep deterioration in the European perception of Donald Trump's America.

More than 60 percent of respondents in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal said they had lost trust in the United States as a global leader.

Forty-six percent of French respondents, and 42 percent of Germans, said their view of the US had worsened “a lot” as a result of the coronavirus crisis (the highest results among all surveyed countries).

“Now, Europeans' trust in Trump's America is gone. Many of them have been appalled by the country's chaotic response to Covid-19; the lack of solidarity it showed with Europeans in the March 12th closure of its border to members of the Schengen area; and its lack of leadership in tackling the coronavirus crisis at the global level – or even engagement with the issue (beyond a war of words with the World Health Organisation),” the study wrote.

“Europeans have accepted the fact that Trump's America is not necessarily a friend of Europe in a time of need.”

 

 

Europeans' view of China has also worsened since the pandemic.

“More than 60 percent of respondents in France and Denmark reported that their view of China had worsened. In eight of nine surveyed countries, the share of respondents who have adopted a more negative view of China in the past year has increased by between a factor of two and a factor of ten,” the study read.

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COVID-19

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The French parliament has passed the controversial health bill which updates France's emergency provisions for Covid - and allows the return of negative Covid tests for all travellers at the border, if the health situation requires.

French government votes to allow return of Covid tests at border

The Loi sanitaire was eventually approved by the Assemblée nationale on Monday after several variations and amendments added on its passage through the Assemblée and the Senate. It was voted on and passed Tuesday, May 26th. 

The bill replaces the State of Health Emergency that has been in place since March 2020 and puts in place provision for government actions should the health situation deteriorate or a dangerous new variant of Covid emerge.

The original text had a provision for the return of the health pass at the border, but this has now been scrapped and instead the government has the right to make a negative Covid test a condition of entry for all travellers.

At present negative tests are required only for unvaccinated travellers, and the new test requirement would only be put into force if a dangerous new variant emerges.

The government will be able to implement the testing rule by decree for two months, but a further parliamentary debate would be required to extend it beyond that.

From August 1st the State of Health Emergency will be formally repealed, which means that the government no longer has the power to introduce major limits on personal freedom such as lockdowns or curfews without first having a debate in parliament.

The bill also allows for an extension of data collection required for the SI-DEP epidemic monitoring tools such as the contact tracing app Tous Anti Covid until June 30th, 2023 and Contact Covid until January 31st, 2023. 

The most controversial measure in the bill was the reinstatement of healthcare workers who were suspended for being unvaccinated – this actually only involves a couple of hundred people but medical unions and the medical regulator Haut Autorité de Santé (HAS) have both been against it.

However the bill allows for the eventual lifting of the requirement for Covid vaccination for healthcare workers, when the HAS judges it is no longer necessary and once the requirement is lifted, the suspended healthcare workers will be reinstated “immediately”.

The bill was approved on Monday evening with 184 votes to 149, the result of a joint committee that was able to harmonise the versions of the Assembly and the Senate.

The final vote passed the Senate on Tuesday.

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