Geopolitical implications of the COVID-19 pandemic

29-09-2020

Since the Coronavirus began its spread across the world, many analysts have speculated about its impact: would it merely accelerate previously-existing trends, or would it prove to be a geopolitical ‘game-changer’, creating a world profoundly different than before? The answer is much more complex than either or: the world during and after COVID-19 will have elements of both, the old and the new, the known and the unknown. This study explores both dimensions of the pandemic’s impact: how does it affect the geopolitical context it erupted into, and what possibility space does it open up? The first section assesses the geopolitical trends antedating the pandemic and measures its present and expected impact on them, while the second section lays out the space for action and change created by the disruption. In the third section, the interplay of trends and uncertainties is explored in three scenarios set in 2025: Strategic Distancing; Europe in Self-isolation; and Lockdown World. The study finds that European foreign policy is entering an era of re-definition in which the European Parliament should play a crucial role. This means outlining the elements of strategic autonomy, but also streamlining them with each other. As such, classical foreign policy needs to join forces with other policy areas such as environmental and technological matters, trade, strategic communication – and of course, health. In that sense alone, the pandemic is already proving to be a game-changer.

Since the Coronavirus began its spread across the world, many analysts have speculated about its impact: would it merely accelerate previously-existing trends, or would it prove to be a geopolitical ‘game-changer’, creating a world profoundly different than before? The answer is much more complex than either or: the world during and after COVID-19 will have elements of both, the old and the new, the known and the unknown. This study explores both dimensions of the pandemic’s impact: how does it affect the geopolitical context it erupted into, and what possibility space does it open up? The first section assesses the geopolitical trends antedating the pandemic and measures its present and expected impact on them, while the second section lays out the space for action and change created by the disruption. In the third section, the interplay of trends and uncertainties is explored in three scenarios set in 2025: Strategic Distancing; Europe in Self-isolation; and Lockdown World. The study finds that European foreign policy is entering an era of re-definition in which the European Parliament should play a crucial role. This means outlining the elements of strategic autonomy, but also streamlining them with each other. As such, classical foreign policy needs to join forces with other policy areas such as environmental and technological matters, trade, strategic communication – and of course, health. In that sense alone, the pandemic is already proving to be a game-changer.

Vanjski autor

Florence GAUB, Lotje BOSWINKEL; EUISS