“The crisis could leave scars and reopen old wounds,” warned the OECD in a study published Friday on the impact of Covid-19 in Europe. Indeed, the health crisis has affected the states of the Old Continent very unevenly. Successive lockdowns have been particularly destructive for the service sector. However, this sector often employs “an abundant unskilled labor force”, which could lead to an increase in “inequalities and (of) poverty” within Europe, says the international organization in its report.
To tackle the widening gaps between states and within regions, the OECD calls in particular to use the European recovery plan of 750 billion euros through investments in digital transformation and ecological transition. The first checks of the European recovery plan, financed for the first time by debt raised jointly, were released last August.
Southern EU economies hardest hit
“If it is not the subject of public action, digital transformation could worsen regional disparities and lead to an increased spatial concentration of growth and job creation,” notes the OECD.
“Due to their strong dependence on tourism and the high number of very small businesses that characterize them, the economies of the southern EU are those which saw their GDP fall most sharply in 2020”, explains moreover this study. Italy was the first European country affected by the pandemic in February 2020. The virus quickly spread to Lombardy, the economic heart of the country which for a time became the epicenter of the global pandemic. Italy’s GDP collapsed by 8.9% in 2020.
Regarding carbon neutrality, insufficiently energetic action “would disproportionately disadvantage regions heavily dependent on coal mining and carbon-intensive industries,” she also warns.