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The week in Europe: how is the bloc faring in the coronavirus fight?

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COVID 19 Toulouse
COVID 19 Toulouse   -   Copyright  Matthieu RONDEL/EU
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In many parts of Europe, lockdowns are into their second or third week. While most people are staying safe and finding new ways to work and live, criminals are also adapting to the pandemic.

Coronavirus crime

They range from high profile heists - like a Van Gogh painting stolen from a museum in Amsterdam - to the everyday scams such as flogging sub-standard face masks and hand-sanitisers.

But some criminals are using tried-and-tested methods.

“We knew these phenomena in the past where specifically elderly people were targeted. Now people are receiving telephone calls from somebody who is pretending that they are hospital officials. The story is: a relative has fallen sick, needs money for medical treatment," Jürgen Stock of Interpol told Euronews.

Cancellations, compensation and climate crisis

The European economy has come to an almost standstill, entire industries risk going belly up.

Sports and entertainment industries have been hit hard. This week there was cancellation after cancellation - notably the Wimbledon tennis championships and the Edinburgh Festival.

But one casualty of the coronavirus cancellations could have wider implications for life on earth. The UN climate summit COP26, which was set for Glasgow in November, has been postponed until some time next year.

Environmentalists say it was the right thing to do, but important climate change decisions would now be late.

"It's really important that we move quickly to take action to reduce emissions," explained Richard Dixon, Director, Friends Of The Earth Scotland.

"2020 is a crucial year because it's the date when the Paris Agreement, which we agreed in 2015, comes into force, so there were a lot of things we were supposed to decide in November which would actually let all of that agreement work and those will now be delayed."

While environmentalists may point to the lower pollution levels due to cancelled flights, both travellers and airlines are out of pocket due to coronavirus. But the EU's Transport Commissioner Adina Valean told Euronews, "the legislation for passengers rights is clear. When a passenger doesn't receive the service that for which he/she paid, they should be reimbursed, and that is clear at the legislation, or they can be offered voucher services, but only if they agree on these voucher services. This is the legislation we have in place."

EU back to the future

How the EU can manage the crisis will be crucial for the bloc's future.

Some pessimists are already painting a gloomy picture: with Italy's Coronavirus nightmare adding to its financial woes and Hungary going rogue on democratic principles and the rule of law, the EU would face a slow but certain break-up.

And that touches upon the eternal question of how Europe sees itself, of what role Europe wants to play – at home and on the global stage.

So what do EU watchers think about Europe at the coronavirus cross-roads?

“We have the absolute conviction that Europe should not fall into the battle-of-the giants trap. What I mean here is that by all means Europe should not fall into this trap of a divided world or a polarized world with the United States on one side and China on the other side. What we need today is really to develop a multilateral agreement, a new international cooperation," says CEO of the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute, Jean-Christophe Bas.

“Well, you know this debate on the survival and the beginning of the end has been around for

Notes from Space

Self-isolation has brought out the creative nature in some people around Europe. But why not get tips from a pro? Chris Hadfield, a former astronaut from Canada talked to Euronews this week about how to deal with confinement.

“Give yourself some pattern to your day. Break your day up into specific sections, and give yourself objectives to do. Normally, they are externally dictated to us, but if you can give yourself a list, 'what do I want to get done if I'm in this house for a week or a day or a month', that's how we live on a spaceship.”