Evolving through crisis: European leadership in the light of COVID-19

On May 13, 2020, the Atlantic Council Northern Europe Office in cooperation with the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the Representation of the European Commission in Sweden organized a seminar on the topic of “Evolving Through Crisis – European leadership in the light of COVID-19”. The closed seminar was attended by experts from all around Europe, representing parliaments, governmental institutions, political parties, think-tanks and other organizations. 

The panelists at the webinar were Dr. Steven Everts, Senior Advisor at the European External Action Services (EEAS); Dr. Jana Puglierin, Head of the Berlin Office, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR); Benjamin Haddad, Director Future Europe Initiative, Atlantic Council; and Dr. Kristi Raik, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, International Centre for Defence and Security (ICDS). The webinar was moderated by Anna Wieslander, Director for Northern Europe, Atlantic Council and introductions were given by Gabriele Baumann, Head of the KAS Nordic Office, and Katarina Areskoug Mascarenhas, Head of the European Commission in Sweden.

The discussion focused on lessons learnt from the early phases of the pandemic for European and transatlantic leadership, and the institutions such as the EU and NATO. The panelists agreed the COVID-19 pandemic has been an accelerator of trends that were already visible before the crisis, such as great power competition, and that the crisis has exposed the vulnerabilities of the current model of globalization. The panelists also discussed the importance of multilateralism, where the absence of US global leadership has left the EU responsible for keeping the multilateral processes alive. However, lack of European cohesion can undermine trust among European countries as internal divisions deepen, between the north and south, the east and west, regarding economic stimulus and solidarity in the face of the crisis.

This webinar was the first in a series of webinars on European leadership and implications for Northern Europe which will be conducted throughout 2020.

Related Experts: Anna Wieslander and Benjamin Haddad

Image: Photo by Sara Riaño on Unsplash