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Brussels must lead way in fight against virus damage

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Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will meet with bank chief executives on how the industry is responding to the fall-out.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will meet with bank chief executives on how the industry is responding to the fall-out.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will meet with bank chief executives on how the industry is responding to the fall-out.

Just how desperately unrehearsed we are for confronting the coronavirus crisis has been exposed. But extreme situations require innovative and immediate actions.

We saw this with the call "your country needs you", which has been reassuringly heeded.

Front-line health workers, the HSE and the Government deserve credit for greatly accelerating testing. In confronting it so far, more things exist without our knowledge than with it.

But extreme situations require innovative actions.

For some, at times, it must feel as if they have been cast in their own disaster movies.

This emergency demands both a national and international strategy.

The effort will need to be both bold and unprecedented in line with the unique challenge. We can not afford to be overwhelmed.

Today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will meet with bank chief executives on how the industry is responding to the fall-out.

The number of bad loans as many businesses go under and homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments demand swift measures.

Last week, we heard dire warnings from business groups about the jobs that will be lost, the bankruptcies that will be triggered and the financial panic that would ensue.

An economic Pandora's box has been opened, but a multi-lateral co-ordinated creative response is still missing.

Aggressive targeted EU action cannot be delayed. Retail Excellence forecasts that another 200,000 people will be out of work by the end of this week because of measures to tackle the spread.

This is on top of the 140,000 jobs that have already been lost.

The EU does not have time for scrambling about to find the correct tools to stop economies going off the rails.

A combined global suite of economic stimulus will eventually emerge.

Common problems need common solutions, but an EU bailout plan to save individual jobs akin to that launched to rescue bankrupt banks will have to be countenanced, to be triggered once the conditions are right.

Only this week, we were told "this global health crisis has a severe effect on our economies", by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

"It is time to support our economies with determination […] we need to focus on investing whatever is necessary to have the economy going on further," she added.

Such words are encouraging, but right now, we need more concrete reassurance from Brussels.

Europe is now the frontline in the war on the virus. It is time to display resolute leadership and give evidence of a determination on a scale with the crisis.

We now rely on a robust and co-ordinated package from Brussels to shield companies and households from the outbreak.

Every weapon in the ECB's armoury will need to be deployed, and new ones may have to be invented, if we are to stave off the worst.

Irish Independent