Coronavirus is not only an unprecedented global public health crisis, it is also a threat to social cohesion and economic stability.
It is not yet clear that the necessary and draconian response from public authorities will impact decisively on the spread of the virus.
In the meantime, health services are already stretched to the point where many doctors are forced to choose who will live and who will die.
The best hope appears to be that warmer temperatures over the summer will slow down rates of contagion.
By that time, the financial impact of #COVID19 may already be on the scale of the 2008 crash, from which most developed economies have yet to fully recover.
Against this backdrop, what should be the response of civil society in general and organisations such as New Europeans in particular?
Firstly, our over-riding concern is to protect the safety and well-being of our staff, volunteers and stakeholders. This is likely to mean the cancellation of events and severe restrictions on normal activity including home-working.
For example, New Europeans had planned hustings meetings prior to the mayoral and assembly elections to the London Authority. These meetings have been cancelled and in fact the election itself has been postponed until 2021.
Secondly, we anticipate that many of our day-to-day activities will be suspended for an indefinite period. We intend to use the time wisely.
Our message to members and stakeholders is that it is important that no one is left alone at this time. We stand together across Europe in a spirit of solidarity, recognising that unity is our greatest strength.
Through online meetings and social media, we will reach out to encourage the sharing of information and advice and the telling of stories. We will continue to seek to energise the conversation about the future of Europe in any way we can.
Thirdly, we observe that one of the first victims of the crisis, has been economic austerity. A market led approach to the coronavirus pandemic is not going to work.
As well as massive state intervention, including a step change in government borrowing and spending, there is a vitally important role for civil society.
Successful prevention strategies require public consent and sustained changes to behaviour will only come about with the involvement of citizens.
More participatory forms of democracy are needed to crowd-source policy options, and to accelerate grassroots implementation of public health measures.
In these difficult and challenging times, it is important we hold close to our mission to challenge prevailing narratives, empower citizens and work for a more democratic Europe of equality and social justice, anchored in human rights.
We stand with our members, stakeholders and partners across Europe in the many weeks and months to come, ready to make our contribution.
A strong civil society in Europe and around the world is the key to a resilient and sustained response to the crisis, mindful of the severity of the threat, while respectful of the universal values and human rights on which our societies depend.
Update on specific projects and campaigns
All face-to-face meetings with MPs and MEPs in London, Brussels, Strasbourg and other European capital cities cancelled until further notice
Work on Green Card campaign to continue online and through public information campaign.
Progress on other pledges from Courage Calls: A Citizens’ Rights Manifesto for #the5million under review subject to further announcement.
All public events aimed at bringing communities together and activities aimed at fostering exchanges across Europe suspended until further notice.
New programme to develop online exchanges through story-telling, webinars and podcasts in the planning phase.
Europe Future Fringe
Development phase on course with regular online meetings of Initiative Board and work in progress on website and new app.
Preparatory meetings planned for Brussels, Strasbourg, Aachen, Paris, Budapest, Rome, London and Zagreb suspended until further notice.
We will examine how best we can deliver advice and support to at risk communities through our online app and in collaboration with our partners at the AIRE Centre and the EU Londoners office of the Mayor of London.
Community outreach in London
We will examine how best we can work with the third sector in London to strengthen the resilience of key civil society organisations in the face of the twin challenges of Brexit and responding to the coronavirus crisis.
For more information: Else Kvist, Communications advisor, New Europeans email@example.com