89 Connect Forums Law Coronavirus: possible outcomes and measures to build a better future

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    • #4738
      Robert CrestRobert Crest
      832 Points

      With the spread of Covid-19, governments around the world are taking increasingly strict measures to face the crisis and fight infections. But are they all good?

      Everyday many countries introduce limits on mobility and strengthen digital surveillance. Some nations – such as India and Malaysia – have taken advantage of the situation to limit freedom of expression. Risk is that governments are taking political and social decisions that their citizens may regret in the future. In fact, even if for centuries governments worldwide have used extraordinary powers during crisis, they don’t always take a step bak and canceled these exceptional measures after overcoming the emergency.

      Coronavirus is undoubtedly changing the world and the life we used to know. There are many different possible futures coming from this experience, depending on how governments and society answer to it and its economic effects. I hope that we will learn from this crisis and we will be able to rebuild, improve and thrive. But I am afraid that we will fall into something worse.

      What do you think will happen? Are you optimistic or pessimistic? And what do you think we should do in order to follow a path of future improvements?

    • #4753
      Dino GalinovicDino Galinovic
      2152 Points
      Pro 89er

      Good afternoon, Robert

      What we can all agree on is that COVID19 pandemic will inevitably change our way of living, and the way that our governments have been acting. I’m trying to stay positive while thinking of certain possibilities after the crisis.

      I am mostly focused on health care policies and systems during these times. It is undeniably clear now that Governments have ethical, moral, and legal duty to invest more in health care systems. Even though many countries have universal health coverage, and some don’t (think only about the devasting situation in the United States right now) – this pandemic showed many flaws within systems and the lack of investment in medical research. I believe that we can use this as a time to re-organize or reform our national health care systems. There is one country that has one of the best health care systems in the world, and which is doing an amazing job during this global pandemic – with having only 380 confirmed COVID19 cases in the last 3+ months. And that’s Taiwan. It’s the country that I’m using as an example from which we can learn a lot. Let me tell you briefly what they have done.

      After the SARS outbreak, Taiwan established the National Health Command Center (NHCC), and in the first five weeks of the outbreak, it took 124 actions ranging from issuing travel alerts and bans, allocating resources for face masks with 4 million being produced every day by the end of January and guidelines for schools.

      It also made use of technology, integrating the national health insurance database with its immigration and customs database. By merging databases they could collect information on every citizen’s 14-day travel history and ask those who visited high-risk areas to self-isolate. Mobile phones were tracked to ensure people stayed at home.

      These measures were strict but combined with a high degree of transparency from the government. Daily press briefings were given and regular public service broadcasts were issued from the President’s office, and simple messaging about hand washing and face masks.

      Taiwan is not only a beacon of democracy, but also living proof that control of an emerging virus can be achieved through science, technology, and democratic governance. No draconian autocratic measures are required.

      I could go on like this for hours about their successful organization of the health care system, and protocols, but I think you get the point.

      With best regards,


    • #4758
      Robert CrestRobert Crest
      832 Points

      Hello Dino, thank you for your interesting reply, I only heard voices about Taiwan situation before but never read something accurate as your comment.
      I couldn’t agree more, they acted great and other countries should learn a lot from their example.

      However, to be honest, even in this specific case I find things which leave me sceptic. Most of them involve technology: one for all, when you say that “Mobile phones were tracked to ensure people stayed at home”, I see a problem of privacy… Maybe it’s just me, and perhaps I’m exaggerating, but I can’t help thinking about a Big Brother situation, in bad hands.

      Always happy to change my mind, though!

    • #4760
      Alexandre Le CozAlexandre Le Coz
      506 Points

      Hi all,

      Just wanted to jump in here and act as a devil’s advocate/counterbalancing voice in this debate. I’ve been hearing through different means that a lot will change once these difficult times are over. People usually refer to more exhaustive and universal health care systems, increased debt mutualisation for eurozone members, greater focus on environmental protection, greater appreciation for individual civil liberties, etc. I’ve even read an interesting piece by Kevin Featherstone on how the crisis might signal the end of neoliberalism as a dominant paradigm in modern societies (https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/greeceatlse/2020/04/02/the-corona-virus-kills-off-neo-liberalism/).

      This being said, I find all these approaches overly speculative. There seems to be very little empirical/scientific backing for such policy twists. For me, there are only 2 areas where improvements are needed and could be implemented. First, and as both of you clearly illustrated in your initial posts, there is a clearly defined need for better health care systems around the world. In some countries like the US for instance, benefiting from a more Taiwan-style coverage might be beneficial. In European countries, where health care is better developed, there is nevertheless a clear need for increased cooperation – notably when it comes to research on the capacity to test for diseases, and more efficient transnational purchases of medical supplies. An in-depth reform of health care systems and increased cooperation between states in terms of medical research is needed, and in my opinion, is to be expected. Second, I truly am convinced that this pandemic will bring about the need for greater digitalisation. So many people have been left unemployed, and those who are lucky enough to continue working are gradually realising the lack of resources at their disposal when it comes to working from home. Private firms, governmental bodies, banks, schools, organisations will all realise the need for greater investment in their respective digital capacities, especially in such a globalised and interconnected world.

      Apart from these 2 policy realms (health care + digital capacity) where I believe great change could arise from the sanitary crisis, I am pessimistic as to global responses to the crisis. To tackle those previously cited, increased debt mutualisation for eurozone members seems to be compromised, because of Dutch and German severe oppositions to the proposal. The recent Dutch/Italian quarrel in this regards illustrates well how complicated Council negotiations are, and how difficult it is for the EU to come to a common understanding. In addition, even if some form of Eurobond were to be created, there is likely to be a high reluctance from private investors to increase their risk-taking by buying off parts of ‘European debt’ rather than ‘German debt’ for instance. The risk, and therefore interest rates, will be too high; and with no demand, it is very unlikely to see Eurobonds as a sustainable remedy against crisis. What to say about the emerging idea of calling such Eurobonds “coronabonds” – a great way to scare off investors and reduce even more the already-little demand on behalf of investors for common Euro-area debt mutualisation. So, even if member states eventually agreed on a common instrument for debt mutualisation, it might be delicate to ensure there will be a proper and sustainable demand for such bonds.

      On the other side, those claiming there will be a greater focus on environmental protection after the crisis tend to ignore that the exact instruments which prevent the EU and the world from coordinating their current policies will prevail after the crisis, and prevent greater coordination for environmental protection (more details here: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/03/27/coronavirus-pandemic-shows-why-no-global-progress-on-climate-change/). Also, this optimism about better care for our environment after the crisis usually relies on naive arguments such as the fact that the coronavirus finds its source in animals such as bats & pangolins, and the fact that people simply realised the beauty of their surroundings during the lockdown. The fight for environmentalism deserves better spokespeople…

      Of course, I hope to be proven wrong, as a wide majority of us know and approve of the urgent necessity for better environmental policy. I also hope to be proven wrong as a convinced European federalist who believes in the need for deeper integration. However, I think it is necessary to look at policy reforms realistically rather than idealistically. Europe must put on the table proposals that are feasible and have a genuine possibility of being enacted, rather than those that will forever be stored in a parliamentary assistant’s under-desk drawer.

    • #4822
      Asami KhulaAsami Khula
      239 Points

      Although I believe it is not so easy to foreseen “what will happen next”, since the very meaning of “normal” will definitely change after this crisis, I am really interested in speculations. I think that the future will be affected in many ways from the coronavirus outbreak, and I hope we (meaning policymakers) will learn from it with no fear.

      For sure, the economy will be the most impacted sector. First of all because of the possible crisis many countries will have to face after weeks of lock-down, and also because of the fact that our polluting, interconnected and globalised way of life is indeed one of the causes of this crisis. I can’t really express an opinion or suggestion on this point cause I don’t feel confident enough to do that, but I’d be happy to read yours.

      Second point that I want to highlight, mentioned by many of you before me, is our relation with technology. First, weeks of increased teleworking and online retail will lead many people to alter some of their behaviors, as well as for organisations itself. Teleworking could be more exploited than before, with benefits for the climate, traffic and workers satisfaction.
      However, there is more: if technology proves its value in fighting the virus, I think that the traditional privacy concerns and a suspicion of artificial intelligence will be left aside to focus on the benefits. In this regards, eastern Asian countries could be taken as a positive example. I wish western governments would find a balance, but something will need to change on a legislative side too: for too long they gave up on technological matters, we need more experts dealing with them.

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