The COVID‑19 Pandemic and the European Union

Verdun, Amy C. | $17,320

British Columbia University of Victoria 2021 SSHRC

The COVID‑19 pandemic has posed unprecedented worldwide challenges, to the international economic and political order, but also to the European Union (EU). This grant is to support a three-day workshop at the Robert Schuman Centre (RSC) of the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence Italy, on 8-10 December 2021.

The workshop starts with a 4-person panel featuring the Canadian Ambassador to the EU and three leading Canadian scholars, to discuss COVID‑19 policies in Canada and in comparative perspective. This initial event is specifically open to a wider audience of scholars, students and policy-makers (100 persons to attend in person; 50 online), while next two days are a more typical scholarly workshop dedicated to discussing the first versions of papers intended to be published in a Special Issue (SI) of the Journal of European Public Policy (JEPP). The PI, Dr Amy Verdun, and collaborator, Dr Lucia Quaglia, serve as guest editors of this SI and the local host of the event is incoming Director of the RSC, Dr Erik Jones, also a collaborator. There will be five Canadians and 18 internationals presenting. A University of Victoria (UVIC) postdoc (to be hired) will help organise the workshop and assist with some of the editing (streamlining) of the papers to ensure they follow journal guidelines.

Whereas the initial event aims to bring selected Canadian researchers and policy-makers together to disseminate knowledge about Canadian COVID‑19 policies to a wider audience, the SI, by contrast, is focused on the EU. It seeks to explain (1) the political and economic responses of the EU to the pandemic; (2) the implications of this crisis on the institutions, policies and politics of the EU; (3) to draw lessons from it, relating these findings to long standing scholarly debates about European integration.

The papers of the SI speak to a number of major themes in EU studies. They include: the choice of deepening economic and political integration in the EU versus the risk of it falling apart; the tension between the EU and its member states (and, occasionally, subnational units) concerning the distribution of competences and the extension of EU’s powers to new policy areas in times of crises; the redistributive issues triggered by the pandemic within and across countries (‘north’ versus ‘south’ and ‘east’ versus ‘west’, for instance), generating ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ as well as political discontent; the effects of the pandemic as a manifestation of globalisation; the effects of the crisis and its management on public opinion and political parties, in particular support (or otherwise) for the EU, but also the occurrence of protest events; and finally further international cooperation more broadly, including complex dynamics concerning cross-border regional (EU) and international political and economic cooperation. The outline of the SI is as follows. Following a short introduction by the editors the subsequent nine papers aim at dissecting the dynamics and effects of the pandemic on i) institutions, ii) policies, and iii) politics in the EU.

SSHRC funding is requested to support dissemination of EU governance regarding the responses to the COVID‑19 pandemic with Canadian scholars. Matching funds (66%) are committed to this project by the EUI and UVIC. SSHRC funds add a Canadian dimension, make the link to Canadian policies, and to pay for travel of presenters. The EUI pays for accommodation and subsistence, also offering the venue free of charge. UVic contributes the costs of the Postdoc. The study of European integration can hugely benefit from a Canadian perspective because of the latter’s experience with fiscal federalism and multilevel governance and vice versa. Canadian researchers have become leading experts in the field.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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