Brussels Edition: The Long Road to Normal

(Bloomberg) -- Welcome to the Brussels Edition, Bloomberg’s daily briefing on what matters most in the heart of the European Union.

“The way back to normality will be very long,” the European Commission will say today in its “roadmap” for easing the pandemic restrictions which have upended daily life. As some member states begin to relax confinement, the EU’s executive arm will warn that even a gradual process “unavoidably” leads to an increase in new cases. Masks, gloves, tests and applications tracking our movements will become part of our routine, and a full economic recovery will probably have to wait until a vaccine is found. Officials hope the reality check, reflecting the consensus among the medical community, will help manage expectations about the months ahead.

What’s Happening

Check Up | Amid persistent concerns about medicine shortages, EU health ministers will hold another call today seeking to coordinate their strategies. The lack of harmonization and collaboration in health-care policy has been a glaring failure that may have made both the human and financial cost of the pandemic worse, our columnist Lionel Laurent writes.

Virus Update | Romania, where coronavirus deaths are the highest in eastern Europe, expanded military control over hospitals. Swedish deaths surpassed 1,000, fueling criticism about the government’s anomalous decision to reject the lockdowns imposed elsewhere. Spain’s new cases dropped to the lowest in weeks, and so did Italy’s. Here’s the latest.

NATO Call | You can’t kill the virus with guns, but NATO defense ministers will today discuss what they can do about it, reviewing actions already taken by alliance members and charting a way forward to help each other. The relevance of institutions like NATO for collective security is one of the questions that the West will have to answer very soon in the aftermath of the outbreak.

Brexit Talks | Michel Barnier is back at the office after recovering from the virus, and today he’s due to resume the delayed post-Brexit talks with U.K. counterpart David Frost. If reaching a deal by the end of the year on the future relationship was a long shot to begin with, it has now become even more so. The immediate aim is to agree on a calendar for the next steps to move talks forward.

In Case You Missed It

French Numbers | The French government was forced to revise its economic and financial forecasts for the second time in less than a week, and is now projecting a contraction in GDP of 8% this year. The situation could get worse still.

Remote Learning | The pandemic exposed shortcomings in educational systems around the world as schools scrambled to digitize lessons, and poorer students who couldn’t afford tablets or laptops were left to fend for themselves. But if any Western country was in a position to rise to this challenge it was France. Here’s why.

Green Recovery | Even an economic collapse deeper than the 2008 recession won’t stop rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, Eric Roston reports. Hence, a new alliance of ministers, chief executive officers and researchers urged the EU to build its recovery package around the Green Deal strategy.

Bloomberg Screentime | On a lighter note, we just launched Screentime, Bloomberg’s new reporting project covering the future of entertainment. Check out our story on how the virus changed the way we watch, listen and play, and our ranking of the world’s biggest pop stars.

Chart of the Day

Brussels Edition: The Long Road to Normal

The IMF predicted the “ Great Lockdown” recession will be the steepest in almost a century, and warned that the euro area will be among the hardest hit regions. Among European countries, Greece and Italy will suffer the deepest contraction in output this year.

Today’s Agenda

All times CET.

  • 11 a.m. European Commission President von der Leyen and European Council President Michel hold a press conference on the EU response to the coronavirus
  • 2 p.m. German Chancellor Merkel to discuss virus restrictions with regional premiers
  • 3 p.m. Video conference of NATO defense ministers to discuss virus
  • 3 p.m. Two EU data protection watchdogs hold interactive session on how Covid-19 will shape the future of European privacy policy
  • 4 p.m. Video conference of EU health ministers
  • Post-Brexit talks resume via video conference
  • Eurostat to publish economic analysis on tourism

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