EU mulling aid to coronavirus-hit sectors

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Feb 28, 2020
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On February 27, Thierry Breton, the EU Commissioner for the internal market and industry, mentioned the possibility that “support measures” could be put in place for businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. The European Commissions is said to be envisaging taking such actions “if needed” within a month.

Thierry Breton - Shutterstock

“We are for the time being analysing the situation,” said Breton. “It’s too early to measure [the epidemic’s] precise impact, but it’s absolutely appropriate for us to initiate the process of coordinating information and policies (...). We are monitoring the relevant data on a daily basis, and we will draw our conclusions in a month,” he added.

Breton notably mentioned the difficulties faced by the tourism industry, underlining that “our friends from China have not been travelling to Europe for the last two months.” Other sectors cited by Breton were the industrial supply chains for the automotive, health, electronics, wood-processing and toy industries.

On February 24, the European Commission announced the release of €232 million in financial aid for the EU's preparations in the case of a widespread epidemic, from prevention to possible containment measures. Specifically, €112 million have been made available to the WHO; €15 million are going to Africa, notably to the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal; €3 million have been dedicated to the repatriation of EU citizens residing in the Chinese province of Wuhan; and €100 million have been earmarked for research on a vaccine and for patient care.

The coronavirus epidemic has already affected the textile and apparel industry by causing the cancellation of its two largest trade shows in China, Intertextile and Chic, and by depriving the industry's European shows of a sizeable slice of their exhibitors and visitors.

On the distribution side, tourist destinations and retailers in a number of European countries have recorded much weaker activity since January, owing to the absence of Chinese tourists. The European Fashion Weeks are also paying a price. Milan’s coincided with the first coronavirus outbreak in Italy, causing some labels to call off their catwalk shows. In Paris, attendance to the Fashion Week which opened on Monday is lower than usual, but the majority of scheduled events are taking place, though some cancellations have regrettably been announced.

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