Across Europe, significant headlines dominating the news often fall into two broad categories—the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit. Following are several examples of how these two issues are playing out.
When the UK stepped away from the European Union, Ireland became a geographic Eurozone outlier, presenting challenges and opportunities to the island nation. Consider these facts:
- Ireland is now the only English-speaking country in the EU. Its population recently passed 5 million for the first time since 1851.
- Some of the biggest global tech companies—Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter—and numerous tech startups are based in Dublin. Their offices are situated mainly near Grand Canal Dock, nicknamed the Silicon Docks.
- In Dublin, new construction remains strong, and the crane count currently exceeds 200.
Major trade shifts are occurring between Ireland, the United Kingdom, and mainland Europe. Before Brexit, most of Ireland's trade with Europe ran through the UK land bridge (ports and roads that flow through Britain and the Channel straits).
As the UK's rules and restrictions have become more incompatible with the EU, alternative trade paths have emerged, including dozens of new ferry routes that connect Ireland directly with the continent.
Pandemic progress and setbacks
European countries are among the top nations in terms of vaccination rates against Covid-19. Portugal currently leads with continent with an 87% total vaccination rate. Digital vaccine passports (also issued in a paper format) have been adopted across the EU, often including contact tracing features.
However, a new survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations revealed that progress against the pandemic has also triggered polarizing divisions.
While the majority (64%) of survey respondents were trustful of governments' motivations when imposing lockdowns and restrictions, over a third were suspicious that officials were incompetent (19%) or using Covid-19 as an excuse to control people's lives (17%).
Dramatic country differences were evident. For example, Danish respondents displayed the highest degree of trust (77%), whereas confidence in government dropped to 38% in Poland.
Notable polarizing experiences were also found by age and depending on how the pandemic personally impacted respondents. The political impacts will undoubtedly reverberate across the continent for years.
Global Perspectives thanks John LeTourneau, ABR®, AHWD, C2EX, CIPS, CRS, e-PRO®, GRI, MRP, RENE, SRS, based in Naperville, Illinois, for his assistance in developing this content.