Disinfo: Coronavirus exposes the weakness of European humanism

Summary

Coronavirus has tested the resilience of Western democracies and above all of European solidarity. They both proved to be hollow. The critical point was the coronavirus outbreak in Italy which was left helpless by its European partners. Czechia seized a cargo of Chinese medical gear destined for Italy, Spain turned against Italy, and Germany preferred to close its borders. European inaction was also manifested by the comments made by Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, who accused the Europeans for leaving his country helpless.

Disproof

This message is part of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign around the Coronavirus epidemic – it promotes a narrative of the imminent collapse of the EU due to the problems caused by the Coronavirus epidemic. The EU is accelerating procurement and distribution of medical equipment for its Member States. The joint procurement of personal protective equipment launched by the European Commission is one of the major initiatives undertaken. Additionally, the Commission wants to directly support the healthcare systems of EU Member States in their fights against the coronavirus pandemic. To finance this action, the Commission is mobilising €3 billion from the EU budget, of which €2.7 billion will be channelled through the Emergency Support Instrument and €300 million though the rescEU medical equipment capacity. The Commission has also decided to create a strategic EU stockpile of medical equipment such as ventilators and protective masks to help EU countries. As far as it concerns the Western Balkans countries, a €38 million package in immediate support to tackle the health emergency caused by coronavirus was announced. Furthermore, the Commission decided to reallocate €374 million to help the socio-economic recovery of the region.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 191
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 05/04/2020
  • Outlet language(s) Greek
  • Country: Italy, Serbia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin
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Governments are fiddling with the numbers to exaggerate the death toll of the coronavirus

The World Health Organization, headed by a politician with a dodgy past and funded largely by Bill Gates, has officially declared a pandemic. In response, one “Western” government after another has declared a national emergency and put the country in lockdown. As a result, millions and millions are now losing their jobs and entire national economies are made to suffer irreparable damage, yet aggregate average monthly death rates are not even higher than in 2019, 2018 and 2017. From the very beginning, aided by a supine press, governments have been fiddling with the numbers, going to extremes to give the impression that the coronavirus death toll is appalling. […] Only a government without a grasp of reality, with a total lack of ethical and political principles, accustomed to trampling on the rights of citizens for decades, would decree a total lockdown just to save a few people, or a government that would be taking orders from some unknown higher authority.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about "secret elites" controlling world leaders. When in March 11, 2020 the WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, there were more than 118 thousand confirmed coronavirus cases in 114 countries. An updated situation report from WHO on the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. See more examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation about the coronavirus here.

The EU left Italy face to face with an invisible and terrible enemy

Fifteen thousands Italian victims of COVID-19 is a factor that European officials must reckon with. Yes, and to repent for the fact that, in the midst of a virus attack, they left their ally face to face with an invisible and even more terrible enemy. Many European capitals are not at all eager to truly help the decimated Italian economy. Here, even the apologies of Ursula von der Leyen won’t help. EU flags are migrating from the offices of Italian deputies into closets.

Disproof

Speculative claim about "abandoned Italy" and that the EU left Italy alone to fight coronavirus. This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the West's crumbling solidarity. While Russia has sent a military team to Italy, there are numerous examples of solidarity in the Western world, including among the EU and individual Member States as follows.

The European Commission has approved a €50 million Italian aid scheme to support the production and supply of medical devices, as well as to help Italy provide the necessary medical treatment to those infected. On March 18th, the European Union also received a Chinese aid package, including masks and 50,000 testing kits that were fully allocated to Italy, as Rome faced the most urgent needs among member states in the coronavirus crisis. On March 13th, the European Union proposed a Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, envisaging EUR 835 million for Italy. On March 26th, the European Parliament unanimously approved the initiative.

It is the end of the European Union because of coronavirus

This confirms what everybody is thinking: this is it, the European Union is finished. Germany can help its people and is doing that. Italy cannot help its own people and is not helping it. It’s over, there is no European Union.

Disproof

This claim exploits the coronavirus pandemic to push a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the EU's alleged imminent collapse. One of the main pro-Kremlin narratives relating to the pandemic is that the EU is failing to cope with the COVID-19 crisis and, as a result, is disintegrating, together with the border-free Schengen area. In particular, this narrative of failure and lack of EU solidarity is trending after the delivery of Russian aid to Italy. This narrative also aims to pit EU member states against each other in an attempt to undermine European solidarity, another recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation tactic. The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the COVID-19 crisis and is supporting Member States in tackling the pandemic and in mitigating its economic consequences. To cushion the blow to people’s livelihoods and the economy, the European Commission has adopted a comprehensive economic response to the outbreak, applied the full flexibility of the EU's fiscal rules, has revised its State Aid rules and proposed to set up a EUR 37 billion Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative to provide liquidity to small businesses and the health care sector. The Commission is further increasing its response by proposing to set up a €100 billion solidarity instrument to help workers keep their incomes and businesses stay afloat, called SURE. It is also proposing to redirect all available structural funds to the response to the coronavirus. To support scientific research into COVID-19, the European Commission earmarked 47,5 million EUR for shortlisted research projects that can improve epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks. The EU also created the first ever stockpile of medical equipment. EU Member States are helping each other in this crisis; for example, German hospitals have offered to treat critical coronavirus patients from France as well as taking in patients from Italy and the Czech Republic has sent masks to Italy. Read more about the EU's response here and here. Read similar cases claiming that the EU has collapsed as a result of the pandemic that the coronavirus epidemic marks the beginning of an era of crisis for pan-European identity and solidarity and that the COVID outbreak means the end of Europe.