National and Collective Practices for the COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Europe

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-12-50-60
M. Vedernikov,
Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences (IE RAS), 11/3, Mokhovaya Str., Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation.

Received 17.06.2021.

Acknowledgements. The article was prepared within the project “Post-Crisis World Order: Challenges and Technologies, Competition and Cooperation” supported by the grant from Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation program for research projects in priority areas of scientific and technological development (Agreement 075-15-2020-783).

Abstract. The article deals with the national and collective pandemic responses at the early stage of the COVID‑19 spread in Europe. It is noted that the European Union was not ready for such a cataclysm, despite the history of the spread of serious infectious diseases and the presence of special services and road maps. The virus that began to circulate in Asia, was not initially perceived by the EU representatives as a real threat. Moreover, its leadership ignored the voices of some member states of the Union, focusing on solving other problems. In turn, the countries left without Brussels’ attention began to counteract the new Coronavirus independently, using the anti-crisis tools that were prescribed in the existing pandemic plans. The existence of such national programs determined the specificity of the measures taken in the very first days. The author identifies three models of the EU member states’ behavior. The first one was common for the states of the so-called “political core of the EU” which refused to adopt strict lockdown measures due to their unwillingness to weaken democracy, violate human rights and limit civil liberties. The second group, comprised mainly of the EU‑11 countries, imposed severe measures. The author sees the rationale for this step in the fact that local authorities doubted the capabilities of national health systems in passing a pandemic stress test. The third group includes states that have chosen the way of achieving herd immunity – the most controversial option of resistance to viral infection, that has not proven its effectiveness. The article demonstrates that the period of growing national egoism was followed by a stage of decisive measures by the central authorities of the EU. They were able to develop a suitable package of measures that took into consideration the interests of the most affected countries of the Union. The consolidation of the EU after a temporary weakening became possible due to the “reset” of the Franco-German tandem.

Keywords: European Union, pandemic, COVID‑19, national egoism, Franco-German tandem


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For citation:
Vedernikov M. National and Collective Practices for the COVID-19 Pandemic Response in Europe. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 12, pp. 50-60.

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