The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Visegrad countries hard but not equally in terms of seriousness and its evolution in time.
The V4 countries are only a political decision away of improving their digital infrastructure, they should be more ambitious, says senior fellow from German Marshall Fund Brussels Office Kristine Berzina in an interview with EURACTIV Czech Republic.
After tense weeks of negotiations, during which it looked like the cycling transport agenda will be once again overlooked, the Slovak Ministry of Transport and Construction announced that it will be part of National Recovery and Resilience Plan. However, support schemes for cycling need to change for it to be effective, as claimed by NGO and ministry officials.
Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, protective and medical equipment has become one of the most valuable commodities in global markets. After a few months, the needs of many EU countries are already satisfied with domestic production. In Poland, we managed to produce simpler medical masks or disinfectant liquids but importing respirators or production of more complicated masks seem to be problematic. However, there is much hope for the potential production of vaccines.
The European Union has set itself ambitious climate targets. Czechia plans to contribute to these goals with nuclear energy still on track. According to a recent study initiated by Czech MEPs, it is the only feasible way to do so. However, energy and environment analysts are not that keen on nuclear energy.
The Slovak government has yet to agree on where, how, and for how much it will roll-out the missing broadband networks, as the European Commission is talking about ultra-fast internet coverage in the whole of EU. But while the finance ministry suggests that the state will subsidize the tightening of optical cables at the level of municipalities, IT and telecom experts warn that the country has not invested a single euro to cover the full connectivity of households.
Just as the other EU countries, the Visegrad states are endangered by the amplification of manipulated information and the pandemic has only contributed to the problem. Combatting disinformation is a whole society effort that requires action through various channels, states Naďa Kovalčíková from German Marshall Fund Brussels office in an interview with EURACTIV.pl.
Elif Gündüzyeli is a Senior Coal Policy Coordinator at the Climate Action Network.
The European Union, as the rest of the world, is facing an unprecedented healthcare challenge. The EU has been widely criticized for its slow initial reaction to the developing pandemic and, then, the slow vaccine roll-out in the bloc, seeing the Union lag behind the US, the UK or Israel in the immunization of the population.
Since shocks cannot be avoided and are likely to occur more frequently in the future, it is crucial to strengthen economic resilience – “the ability of a country to withstand a shock and recover quickly to its potential [growth] after it falls into recession” – on national and regional levels.
The most often raised issue with SMEs in Hungary is that they are lagging behind larger firms and their western rivals in terms of productivity, which is the added value produced by a worker in a given timeframe. The low productivity, in turn, holds the entire Hungarian economy back.
Digital disruption is happening: further enhanced by the Covid-19 crisis on the social, political and economic levels, EU member states, and V4 countries among them, are rushing to keep up with competitors and level the global playing field. The EU27 need to keep in sight the necessity to maintain focus on cohesion.