Photo of Milan during partial quarantine on March 1, 2020. (Alberto Trentanni/Flickr)

On March 11, 2020, European experts joined the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative for a virtual panel on the effect of the Coronavirus on the European Union (EU).

Rachel Donadio, Contributing Writer at the Atlantic Magazine, Nathalie Tocci, Director of the Institute of International Affairs in Rome, and Giovanna De Maio, visiting fellow at the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution shared their perspectives on the current state of the COVID-19 crisis on the European continent, Italy’s response to the crisis, and its political and economic implications for the European Union.

Since its first two diagnoses in late January, Italy has become the most impacted European Union member state over the course of just over a month. As of early March, there had been more than 9,000 infections and more than 460 deaths, and the Italian government announced restrictions on the movement of its citizens in the entire the country. Meanwhile, all 27 EU member states and countries throughout Europe report growing numbers of cases of the virus, some traceable to Italy.  

With growing public concerns and negative market reactions to the health crisis, Coronavirus poses new political and economic challenges for the EU, its economy, the freedom of movement within the Schengen area, and solidarity among the member states, amongst other factors. At the same time, despite some coordination at the EU level, public health policy remains primarily in the hands of the member states.