Disinfo: The European Union has not helped its partners fight the coronavirus

Summary

The European Union has not helped its partners fight the coronavirus, while China and Russia have come to help.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative aiming to discredit the EU response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Union is supporting the Member States in addressing the crisis and mitigating the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 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.

To support scientific research into the 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 has also created the first-ever stockpile of medical equipment.

Read more about the EU's response here and here.

Likewise, the "lack of solidarity" claim is scotched by the actual response of individual EU members to the crisis. As of 28 March, multiple member states had provided or pledged crucial assistance to Italy including face masks (Germany, Austria, France, Czechia), mobile medical units (Greece), hospital beds (Austria, Germany), ventilators (Germany), and repatriation assistance.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 193
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 03/04/2020
  • Outlet language(s)
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: China, EU, Russia
  • Keywords: coronavirus, EU disintegration
see more

The COVID-19 crisis is manufactured by media and might lead to the breakup of Russia

The current crisis, which caused the pandemic of fear additionally to the COVID-19 pandemic, is the result of the specific media coverage and political-motivated decisions of particular actors. […] The specific of the Russian political culture, a complex tangle of contradictions within the Russian regional and federal elites, as well as the fact that a significant part of the Russian elites is affiliated with the collective West contribute to this scenario. Therefore, the developments triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic may lead to the deformation of the political and administrative structure of the Russian Federation, and lead to notable social and economic tensions. If this scenario turns into reality, the stability of the entire Eurasian region will be undermined.

Disproof

An unfounded conspiracy theory, sharing a recurrent pro-Kremlin narrative about the COVID-19 outbreak as a Western scheme to crush Russia and China. COVID-19 comes from a family of viruses originating in animals that include other viruses such as SARS and MERS. It was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in central China and has been rapidly spreading across the world, with cases being reported in 190 countries, territories and areas. The number of COVID-19 cases is closing up on 1,200,000 globally with over 72,000 deaths by 7 April 2020. The claim is also consistent with an unfounded perspective of Russia being under attack by foreign forces. See more examples of pro-Kremlin disinformation about the coronavirus here.

The bankers and the military prepare a takeover in the US

While public attention is focused on the growing statistics on the coronavirus, a profound reorganization is taking place within the executive branch of the US power. The leadership of the health ministry is assuming priority in policy making. In the shadows, worried bankers and military officers are scheming on an usurpation of power.

Disproof

An exaggerated interpretation of a Newsweek article article from Mid-March. Newsweek describes the role of the US military, should the political leadership be incapacitated.

The European project is dead, EU is incapable of handling the coronavirus crisis

Europe does nothing. A task force was created, composed of five EU commissioners. A programme to buy up assets in the market was increased by 120 billion euros. How can this help people who are sick? We see that the EU project has failed completely. The European Union is not capable of fighting anything. We have already forgotten about it. We do not say “news from Europe”, we say “news from Italy”, “news from Spain”, “news from Germany”. Europe was totally unprepared. The population of Europe does not need the EU.

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. There is no evidence to support the claim that the pandemic is resulting in the death or obsolescence of the EU. 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.