Covid-19 pandemic exposes EU divides: study

Brussels, Sep 1 (EFE).- The coronavirus crisis has divided Europe along geographical, societal and economic lines, with the south and east of the continent significantly more affected by the pandemic than wealthier northern and western European countries, a study has found.

The research conducted in 12 European Union member states by the European Council on Foreign Relations think tank shows that Europe’s experience of Covid-19 “has been a tale of two pandemics” and that the differences “could haunt the continent for many years to come.”

The study found that most respondents in countries in northern and western Europe felt “unaffected” by Covid-19.

“For many of them, the virus has been more of a gruesome spectator sport than a shattering lived experience,” ECFR said.

More than half of the survey’s respondents (54%) said they had been unaffected by Covid, meaning they had not contracted a serious case of Covid, been hospitalized for the disease, lost a friend or relative to Covid or been economically impacted by the pandemic, but these were concentrated in Denmark, Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden and Austria.

The situation contrasts sharply with that of southern and eastern Europe, where most said they have been “directly affected by bereavement, serious illness, or economic distress.”

The majority of respondents from Italy, Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Hungary said they had been personally affected by coronavirus.

The pandemic has split Europe in a similar way to previous crises, including the 2008 financial crisis, which cleaved “the continent into debtors and creditors,” and the migrant crisis in 2015, although that saw a continental division between east and west.

The study also found that a major generational gap is forming with regards to how the pandemic and governmental responses are viewed, “with the young more likely than the old to blame governments for the ongoing impact; the young also feel more badly affected” than the elderly. EFE


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