Resilience is a fundamental prerequisite for Europe as the largest integrated economic area in the world and has an important social dimension which requires the active cooperation of all stakeholders; citizens, the private sector, governments and NGOs included. It is defined as the ability to face shocks and persistent structural changes in such a way that societal well-being is preserved, without compromising the heritage for future generations. Hence, our society should be resilient in a sustainable manner.
The resilience of EU Member States to the financial and economic crisis
Activities performing empirical analysis of the resilience of European countries to the financial and economic crisis addressing the following questions:
- Which countries showed resilient behaviour during and after the crisis?
- Is resilience related only to the economic dimension?
- Has any of the EU countries been able to use the crisis as an opportunity and 'bounce forward'?
- Is it possible to identify any particular country characteristics linked to resilience?
How resilient are the European regions?
A new approach for measuring regional resilience is proposed. This approach goes beyond the assessment of traditional economic dimensions. Resilience depends on both country-level and regional characteristics. Characteristics of resilient behaviour identified at the country level generally perform well also at the regional level, however, research also highlights a few resilience characteristics that are specific to the regional level.
Individual resilience: how EU citizens cope in times of distress
Individuals can be considered resilient if they “bend but not break” under distress. Based on survey data, research has been performed to assess resilience of individuals in all Member States. The complexity of individual resilience is captured through a composite indicator. It combines the self-reported assessment of the ability to bounce back, reported strategies of financial coping, and attitudes towards life (like optimism, trust, ability to feel joy, feeling in control, self-confidence and social connectedness).
Financial buffers of households in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis
The availability of financial buffers can be used to assess the vulnerability of households following lockdown measures and potential income losses. In many EU countries, the fraction of households with savings of less than 1000 euros is at least 20% of the population. In most EU countries, more than half of the households have liquid savings worth less than two months’ income. Workers in the retail and tourism ("accommodation and food") sectors are particularly vulnerable as they have less than one monthly income as a financial buffer. This will most likely affect Southern European countries where tourism constitutes a larger share of GDP. Income support is particularly important for those households that have insufficient financial buffers.
Time for transformative resilience: the COVID-19 emergency
The narrative on resilience can be adapted to the context of the COVID-19 emergency. It stresses how societal resilience needs to be tackled with a 360-degrees system approach, which helps to look at complexities and interconnections. The COVID-19 pandemic impacts our society at different levels and with different intensity. To respond in a resilient way, different resilience capacities need to be evoked. The COVID-19 shock is so extreme in its duration and intensity that it is simply impossible to address it through absorptive capacities or a simple adaptation of the system. Therefore, it should become an opportunity to progress and “bounce forward” through adaptation and transformation. The role of policies would be to provide the necessary positive impulses for it, with a mix of prevention, preparation, protection, promotion and transformation measures. The report concludes by suggesting some strategic actions to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.