Editorial of January 2022

By Alessandra Silveira (Editor)

Talking openly about the federative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the EU integration

Jean Monnet stated that Europe will be forged in crises and will be the sum of the solutions adopted for those crises. Crisis is the natural condition of Europe, and, as in every crisis the EU has survived in recent times – be it the sovereign debt crisis, the migration crisis, or the identity crisis with Brexit – at the beginning of the health crisis the imminent collapse of the EU was again proclaimed. And oddly enough, or not, those who were most critical of the EU’s initial silence were the same ones who traditionally postulate the least possible integration[1].

However, the existential risk at this time was also sensed by politicians and academics unsuspicious of any Euroskepticism – such as Mario Monti, Jacques Delors or Giscard d’Estaing[2] – which made that historical moment especially unique. The public opinion in the various Member States called for concerted EU action in the area of public health, in accordance with its competencies under the TFEU [both shared competencies (Article 4/2/k) and the so-called complementary competencies (Article 6/a), both set out in Article 168 under the heading “public health”], in order to fight a virus that knew no borders, endangered the health and lives of citizens, and threatened to cause an economic crisis of unimaginable proportions, foreseeably more serious than the recession crisis of the 1930s.

Continue reading “Editorial of January 2022”

Work-life balance measures in the EU and the impact of Covid-19 on its progress

Maria Inês Costa (Master’s student in Human Rights, UMinho)

The implementation of Directive 2019/1158 of June 20, 2019, of the European Parliament and the Council on work-life balance for parents and carers[1], came about two years after the publication (in 2017) of a proposal by the European Commission (EC). In 2008, a directive on maternity leave was proposed, which provided for more time on leave and more rights for mothers; however, in 2015, the Commission withdrew the proposal, basing its decision on the persistent difficulty of reaching an agreement among the co-legislators, while ensuring that it would continue its efforts to propose a broader initiative.[2] Thus, the 2017 proposal was announced as part of a set of measures to be implemented that, based on the policies and protection of the EU acquis and existing European legislation, aimed to improve existing rights, with a focus on equal treatment and gender equality. Hence, the specific objectives to be pursued are mentioned in this proposal: to improve access to leave and flexible working arrangements, and to increase the take-up of leave by men.[3]

Continue reading “Work-life balance measures in the EU and the impact of Covid-19 on its progress”

Covid-19: a matter of security

by Rafaela Figueiredo Garcia Guimarães (Master’s student in Human Rights at University of Minho)

We must declare war on this virus”, asserted the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, when commenting on the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic, on March 13, 2020[1]. On April 23, 2020, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared that “the war against Covid-19 is far from won by the Planet[2]. By the same token, Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor on Organizational Change to the WHO Director-General, also stated at a press conference on March 26, 2021, that “we are at war with the virus, not against each other, and the common goal is to end the coronavirus[3]. Josep Borrell, the High Representative on behalf of the European Union (EU), in his declaration on April 3, 2020, proclaimed that “this is a time when we should spend all of our energy and resources in the fight against this common global threat – the coronavirus[4]. Likewise, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her speech to the nation on March 18, 2020, acknowledged that “there has not been a challenge like this since World War II, which depends so much on a joint action of solidarity[5], and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, on March 16, 2020, openly declared that “we are at war and that the enemy, although invisible, is here[6]. “This is a war! It is really a war we are dealing with,” assures the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on March 18, 2020, in his message to the Portuguese people[7]. Last but not least, the President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, on January 21, 2021, stated publicly the endorsement of a “large-scale war effort to fight the pandemic[8].

Since WHO’s public announcement, on March 11, 2020, the disease caused by the SARS-COV-2 coronavirus and on the fact that we were in the face of a pandemic, Covid-19 has been treated as a security issue, with coronavirus being the global enemy that needs to be tackled and eliminated. Thus, the health crisis Covid-19 gave rise to came to be considered a threat to global security.

Continue reading “Covid-19: a matter of security”

Millennials and Covid-19 pandemic: an exploratory analysis

by Felipe Debasa and José Ramón Saura (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos) 

Youths has traditionally been considered the period that precedes human maturity. However, the Baby boomer generation, the one we find after World War II, changes the term. Youth will be considered by them as the end of childhood, the culmination stage of human development. This change in point of view is the origin of the rebellious behaviors and a spirit of freedom that mark the decades of the 60s and 70s so approached by literature, music and cinema. The Baby Boomer generation in the United States and in Europe is the first generation that does not suffer a war in its own territory and that does not suffer from a shortage of food or services. Youth leisure and a consumer society focused on young people became widespread, something unthinkable at the beginning of the 20th century. As a result of this scenario, the characteristic cultural movements of an era that has marked the development of the Western world until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disappearance of the USSR appear. Faced with this new non-war scenario, there are also youth movements protesting against their model of life. Especially against the consumer society, the rigidity of social norms and the wars in other parts of the world for which they blame Western societies. This is how countercultures were born in the 1950s and 1960s, such as beats or hippies. However, some authors[i] point out that the Maoist ideas that circulated in May 68 crossed borders and oceans and reached Latin America. There they would be the germ of many revolutionary and terrorist movements that would shake Latin America during the last third part of the 20th century.

Continue reading “Millennials and Covid-19 pandemic: an exploratory analysis”

The transversality of mental health in a “European Health Union”

Alessandra Silveira (Editor) and Maria Inês Costa (Master's student in Human Rights at University of Minho)

The Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU 2021 Program reinforces the need to strengthen cooperation between Member States in the field of health, to support actions needed to increase the responsiveness of health services to threats to public health.[1] In the debate regarding a “European Health Union” it is important to underscore that mental health is a transversal approach to all health policies. However, despite the many targeted resolutions covering urgent aspects of mental health,[2] the debate on this issue never found its way to a comprehensive European framework.[3] Indeed, it is critical to consider the impediments to mental healthcare, the costs of neglecting mental healthcare, and Covid-19 impact on increasing fatigue and its consequences on mental healthcare.[4]

Above all, it is important to ponder that many mental disorders are shaped, to a large extent, by social, economic, and environmental factors[5] – that is, many of the causes and triggers of mental disorders reside in the Europeans daily life conditions.[6] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the response to social, environmental, and economic determinants of health requires multisectoral approaches anchored in a human rights perspective. Multisectoral action is central to the SDG (“sustainable development goals”) agenda because of the range of determinants acting upon people’s health – such as socioeconomic status, gender, and other social determinants.[7]

Continue reading “The transversality of mental health in a “European Health Union””