From Diversity to Coordination: A European Approach to COVID19
Forthcoming, European Journal of Risk Regulation
Amsterdam Centre for European Law and Governance Research Paper No. 2020-01
16 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2020 Last revised: 17 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 15, 2020
The COVID19 pandemic is changing the face of Europe. Member States’ divergent responses to this crisis unveils lack of unity in the face of a humanitarian catastrophe. At best, this undermines the effectiveness of health protection within the EU. At worst, it risks breaking up the Union altogether. Divergent national responses to COVID19 reflect different national preferences and political legitimacy, thus cannot be fully avoided. In this article, we argue that these responses should be better coordinated. Without coordination, the price for diversity is high. Firstly, there are damaging spillovers between Member States, which undermine key pillars of European integration such as the free movement of persons and of goods. Secondly, the national policymaking is easily captured by local interest groups.
Our proposal is that EU indicates, not mandates, a European exit strategy from asymmetric containment policies of COVID19. In particular, the EU should help Member States procure and validate tests for infection and immunity. The EU should also indicate ways in which testing could be used to create safe spaces to work, thereby restoring the free movement of persons and of goods. We see a great advantage in such EU guidance: it could improve mutual learning between Member States, which have faced different timing of the epidemic and learned different lessons. Although the local political economy has so far delayed learning and undermined cooperation, the EU can mitigate both effects and indicate the way for Europe to resurrect united from the ashes of COVID19.
Keywords: Coronavirus; European law; health law; free movement; cross-border externalities; political economy
JEL Classification: I18; H12; K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation