Download publication

Policy Contribution

Why has COVID-19 hit different European Union economies so differently?

All European Union countries are undergoing severe output losses as a consequence of COVID-19, but some have been hurt more than others. Factors potentially influencing the degree of economic contraction include the severity of lockdown measures, the structure of national economies, public indebtedness, and the quality of governance in different countries. With the exception of public indebtedness, we find all these factors are significant to varying degrees.

By: Date: September 22, 2020 Topic: Macroeconomic policy

All European Union countries are undergoing severe output losses as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis, but some have been hurt more than others. In response to the crisis, EU leaders have agreed on a Recovery and Resilience Fund (RFF), which will help all EU countries, but those hit hardest will benefit most.

This Policy Contribution explores why some countries have been hit economically more than others by COVID-19. Using statistical techniques described in the technical appendices, several potential explanations were examined: the severity of lockdown measures, the structure of national economies, the fiscal capacity of governments to counter the collapse in economic activity, and the quality of governance in different countries.

We found that the strictness of lockdown measures, the share of tourism in the economy and the quality of governance all play a significant role in explaining differences in economic losses in different EU countries. However, public indebtedness has not played a role, suggesting that that the European Central Bank’s pandemic emergency purchase programme has been effective.

We used our results to explore why some southern EU countries have been more affected by the COVID-19 crisis than some northern countries. Depending on the pairs of countries or country groupings that we compared, we found that differences in GDP losses were between 30 and 50 percent down to lockdown strictness, between 35 and 45 percent to the quality of governance and between 15 and 25 percent down to tourism.

This could have implications for the allocation of the RRF between recovery and resilience expenditures. Supporting the recovery through a combination of demand and supply initiatives is important to ensure that countries rebound as quickly as possible from the COVID-19 crisis, without leaving too much permanent damage to their economies. But in many countries, especially some of the southern countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis, resilience is a major sticking point. Too often, in some of these countries, the poor quality of governance has had a negative impact on their resilience, as the relatively large size of their GDP shocks has demonstrated. It is crucial therefore that RRF programmes devote sufficient attention (and resources) to improving the quality of governance in these countries.

Recommended citation
Sapir, A. (2020) ‘Why has COVID-19 hit different European Union economies so differently?’, Policy Contribution 2020/18, Bruegel

Read about event More on this topic
 

Upcoming Event

May
25
14:30

How can we support and restructure firms hit by the COVID-19 crisis?

What are the vulnerabilities and risks in the enterprise sector and how prepared are countries to handle a large-scale restructuring of businesses?

Speakers: Ceyla Pazarbasioglu and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Macroeconomic policy
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

The cost of China's dynamic zero-COVID policy

What does zero-COVID mean for both China and the global economy?

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global economy and trade Date: May 11, 2022
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

From viruses to wars: recent disruptions to global trade and value chains

How have events in recent years impacted global trade and value chains and how can we strengthen these against future disruptions?

Speakers: Dalia Marin, Adil Mohommad and André Sapir Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 27, 2022
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Opinion

China’s Covid policy to be year’s largest economic shock

Beijing’s ‘dynamic zero-Covid’ policy could devastate the domestic economy, but the effects will also be felt globally.

By: Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Global economy and trade Date: April 26, 2022
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Blueprint

European governance

Greening Europe’s post-COVID-19 recovery

This Blueprint includes some of the Group’s most prominent voices on the different aspects of the multidimensional issue of green recovery.

By: Simone Tagliapietra, Guntram B. Wolff, Georg Zachmann, Laurence Tubiana, Laurence Boone, Antoine Dechezleprêtre, Jean Pisani-Ferry, Klaas Lenaerts, Thomas Wieser, Ottmar Edenhofer, Mirjam Kosch, Michael Pahle, Ian Parry, Robert N. Stavins, Sabine Mauderer and Tomasz Koźluk Topic: European governance Date: February 23, 2022
Read article More by this author
 

Blog Post

European governance

How has growth changed what countries get from the European recovery fund?

Adjustments to growth forecasts mean some countries will get 10% more than expected and others 20% less in grants from the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility. But the benefits of more quickly rising growth rates dwarf foregone recovery funds.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European governance, Macroeconomic policy Date: February 17, 2022
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Policy Contribution

European governance

The failure of global public health governance: a forensic analysis

The emergence of the Omicron variant in November 2021 was a stark reminder of the high overall cost of the persistence globally of extremely unequal access to vaccines and treatments. What are the reasons for these failures of global collective action?

By: Anne Bucher, George Papaconstantinou and Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: European governance Date: February 17, 2022
Read article More on this topic
 

Blog Post

Venture capital: a new breath of life for European entrepreneurship?

Whether the dynamism of European venture capital of the past two years can be sustained and kick start a credible alternative to bank finance in the European Union remains to be seen.

By: Maria Demertzis and Lionel Guetta-Jeanrenaud Topic: Banking and capital markets Date: February 10, 2022
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author
 

Policy Contribution

European governance

Does Europe need a Health Union?

This Policy Contribution assesses the rationale for a Health Union. Section 1 provides a historical perspective on health provisions in the European Union treaties. Section 2 gives an overview of the achievements of EU health policies. Section 3 explores the need for an overall health strategy and section 4 identifies the areas that would benefit from closer integration.

By: Anne Bucher Topic: European governance Date: February 8, 2022
Read article More by this author
 

Blog Post

European governance

The puzzle of European Union recovery plan assessments

Identical European Commission assessments that EU countries’ recovery plan cost justifications are ‘medium-quality’ undermine trust in the assessments and raise questions about whether recovery money will be well spent.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European governance, Macroeconomic policy Date: February 8, 2022
Read article Download PDF More on this topic
 

Working Paper

The effect of COVID certificates on vaccine uptake, public health, and the economy

An analysis of the incentive effects of COVID certificates on vaccine uptake, health outcomes and the economy.

By: Miquel Oliu-Barton, Bary Pradelski, Nicolas Woloszko, Lionel Guetta-Jeanrenaud, Philippe Aghion, Patrick Artus, Arnaud Fontanet, Philippe Martin and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Digital economy and innovation Date: January 17, 2022
Read article More on this topic
 

External Publication

Europe must come together to confront Omicron

Statement published in the renowned British Medical Journal (BMJ) to address the wave of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

By: Miquel Oliu-Barton, Guntram B. Wolff and Group of authors Topic: Global economy and trade Date: January 13, 2022
Load more posts