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COVID-19’s Uneven Impact on Europe Portends an Equally Uneven Recovery

Oct 12, 2020 | 10:00 GMT
A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed shop in Rome, Italy, on May 18, 2020. The sign on the store window reads

A woman wearing a face mask walks past a closed shop in Rome, Italy, on May 18, 2020. The sign on the store window reads "Without government aid, we cannot reopen on May 18. Thousands of employees at risk."

(Stefano Montesi-Corbis/Getty Images)

COVID-19’s uneven economic impact on the European Union portends an equally uneven recovery, as growth in the south will be weaker than in the rest of the Continent due to structural factors. Different policy priorities between harder-hit southern states and their northern and eastern peers will thwart the bloc’s ability to increase financial integration among its 27 members, as well as implement monetary policies for its 19-member currency zone. The risk of social unrest, government collapses and the emergence of anti-establishment movements will also be higher in Southern Europe, where the pandemic has exacerbated countries’ pre-existing economic weaknesses such as high unemployment, deep fiscal deficits and high sovereign debt levels. ...

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