Tough weeks ahead as EU heads into another round of COVID-19 restrictions

by RPP
Weekly European political updates

Tough weeks ahead as EU heads into another round of COVID-19 restrictions

Europe is a colourful continent in terms of policies and outcomes. It is essential to stay updated on how these policies may impact your work to build better regulatory frameworks, enhance your message and enhance communication with stakeholders. Here you can find a summary of the major European political updates of this week.    


United Kingdom 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the leaders of the devolved nations have introduced more stringent public health measures to curb the accelerating spread of COVID-19 across the UK. Johnson has introduced a 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants across England, mandated public health and hygiene measures in offices, and introduced higher penalties for people flouting restrictions. Scotland and Northern Ireland have gone further in introducing a ban on members of different households mixing indoors, while Wales has stipulated that mixing groups must be part of defined ‘bubbles’ (extended households). The only limited divergence on measures reflects a period of rapprochement among the devolved nations, as Boris Johnson chaired the UK governments’ emergency briefing and directly communicated with the devolved leaders reportedly for the first time in months.


Health Minister Jens Spahn (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) has expressed his concern with the uptick in COVID-19 cases but outlined the improved capacities of the German healthcare system, stating that the tests conducted in the last four weeks account for one third of all tests conducted since the outbreak. In an interview, Jens Spahn (CDU) announced the Ministry’s plans for upcoming COVID-19 measures which include central outpatient clinics for fever patients, special measures for risk groups, antigen tests and new quarantine regulations. In addition, the Ministry is currently working on a list of groups that will have priority status to receive the vaccine.


On 22 September, French Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune said that France is opposed to returning to the EU rules of budgetary discipline which were suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis. Since March, it was not obligatory for EU states to respect the rule imposing that their public deficit should remain below 3% of their GDP. After proposing a €500 billion plan to support the economy, France is reluctant to see this rule being reinforced after the pandemic.


This week’s headlines for Italy have predominantly focused on the referendum to reduce the number of Members of the Parliament (MPs) and the regional election to elect Presidents in 7 regions, which took place on 20 and 21 September. Referendum results indicated that the “yes” camp won with an overwhelming amount, 70% (17 million) against 30% (7 million), therefore implying a 36% reduction in seats in the Chamber of Deputies (Lower House) and in the Senate. This will be applied as of the next general election, which is expected to be held in 2023. As for the regional elections, right wing parties won in 4 out of 7 regions, marking a notable evolution in the Italian political framework.

You can find more information on European news in our EU national elections heatmap, where we provide an overarching perspective with key political insight for individual countries. Make sure to check it here


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