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Research on how the corona crisis will affect the future of the EU

What can history teach us about the EU in the time after Covid-19? Professor Jarle Trondal comes out with a new book on the EU’s crisis response.

EU-flagg, illustrasjonsbilde

“Understanding how the EU responds to crises is a key to understanding how the European Union works”, says Jarle Trondal, professor at the University of Agder with the EU as his main research area.

He will publish a book this autumn with his colleagues Marianne Riddervold from Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and Akasemi Newsom from the University of California, Berkeley, on how the EU responds to crises.

They recently published an excerpt from the book in the article What previous crises tell us about the likely impact of Covid-19 on the EU on the website European Politics and Policy (EUROPP) which is connected to London School of Economics.

Jarle Trondal, foto

Professor Jarle Trondal analyses the development of the EU after the corona crisis in a new article and new book to be published this fall.

Public health is the responsibility of each country

“The EU cannot respond to the corona crisis on behalf of its 27 member states the way it wants to but must act in accordance with already established agreements”, says Trondal.

According to Trondal, it is therefore not surprising that the EU was initially slow to implement measures against the pandemic. 

“The EU did, to a large extent, what the member states want it to do. The agreement between the states is that public health is a national responsibility”, Trondal says.

He points out, however, that in April 2020, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had to apologise to the Italian people on behalf of the EU for lack of help when the pandemic struck.

Slow reaction

The authors present three likely scenarios for the EU following the coronavirus pandemic: Parts of EU’s institutions break apart, the member states are further integrated, or the EU makes small adjustments.

“Even though the EU reacted slowly to the coronavirus pandemic, history shows that the EU has emerged stronger from previous crises “, Trondal says.

Over the last decades, the EU has dealt with the financial crisis, a migration crisis and Brexit without it weakening the union. 

“Now Covid-19 and the corona crisis are next in line, and what is most likely is that the EU will unite, handle the unresolved situation and emerge stronger from the crisis”, says Trondal.

Resilient to crisis

Although the EU has been criticised for its crisis handling so far, the researchers do not think a collapse is a likely future prospect.

“EU institutions are not weakened by crises. On the contrary, the EU system has proved to be resilient to crisis and has been strengthened and gained more influence. When crises arise, we see that the various EU institutions make the necessary adjustments and develop new policies adapted to new challenges”, says Trondal.

This autumn, the book Handbook of European Union Crisis will be published by Palgrave Macmillan. Here, Trondal and his two research colleagues delve into how the EU is affected and changed after various crises.