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May 3, 2021

A transatlantic agenda for homeland security and resilience beyond COVID-19

By Anna Wieslander

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has disclosed the importance of resilient power – a society’s capability to absorb unexpected major shocks, handle and adapt to these, and then, most importantly, bounce back. As the pandemic still rages, endurance has become a major challenge for individuals, institutions, companies, and societies. It emphasizes another dimension of resilience: it is not only about how fast society is able to bounce back and recover at a certain moment, but also how it can withstand repeated shocks over time. 

The pandemic also brought the notion of solidarity to the forefront and exposed the connection between strong resilience and solidarity in open societies. Solidarity was repeatedly tested within and between nations, as well as between different parts of society. Fragmentation and competition flourished amid weak resilience and discouraged tendencies toward cooperation, despite potential gains.

To successfully handle modern challenges to homeland security and resilience, such as climate change and pandemics, there is no way around efficient cooperation. For resilience to be strong, it must be developed not only among states but also in partnership with the private sector, as resilience must be ensured for individuals, communities, private businesses, and public institutions, and at all levels of authority. 

Furthermore, the pandemic has heightened other threats to modern societies, including disinformation, cyber operations, attacks on election systems, and social media manipulation. Ultimately, these threats are targeted to undermine democracy itself. They differ in character, magnitude, and scope, but are often non-military.

This new report, “A Transatlantic Agenda for Homeland Security and Resilience Beyond COVID-19”, highlights some of these modern challenges, which could be possible focus areas for transatlantic cooperation, as well as ideas for building and enhancing capabilities. This report is the result of a half-day online workshop held on January 28, 2021. This report aims to help shape a transatlantic agenda on homeland security and resilience that encompasses everything from policy and capabilities to future science and technology in a time when the transatlantic relationship is ideally positioned to be revitalized and deepened.

Europe Center

The Europe Center promotes leadership, strategies and analysis to ensure a strong, ambitious and forward-looking transatlantic relationship.

Image: A masked pedestrian walks across the Key Bridge at sunset, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2020.