The full extent of COVID-19’s impact on global geopolitical balances cannot yet be assessed. Nevertheless, a number of trends are clearly emerging and these have already upset a number of balances which previously seemed unchangeable. COVID-19 is evidently not the cause of such changes, which had been well underway before the outbreak, but the pandemic has become a litmus test that has further thrust these developments under the political spotlight.
COVID-19 triggered a collapse in oil prices from approximately 60 to 20 dollars per barrel between January and April 2020. Signs of a rebound are visible but prices remain well below the breakeven for many producers. If prices stay this low for long, or if they fall again after a partial rally in a relapse scenario, the world may witness a crisis within the crisis, with even further adverse effects on the world economy.
Both the US and China seem to see the COVID-19 crisis through the lenses of geopolitical competition. A desire to repair its international reputation and gain influence underlies China’s offer of medical equipment and sanitary know-how to countries hit by the contagion – the so-called “mask diplomacy”
European governments and citizens cannot allow the COVID-19 emergency to (re)determine our identity and interests, erecting national barriers or trade wars. The crisis can bring us together or tear us apart, but the ultimate responsibility will rest on people, the leaders and citizens of Europe, who can determine how we will emerge from this pandemic and redefine what it means to be “European”.
The European project was built on the ashes of two world wars. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the most devastating pandemic afflicting humankind in the last century, may be its undoing. Or can it become the catalyst for building a stronger European Union for the future? The jury is still out.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered important debates about technological and industrial sovereignty in Europe. The lack of essential equipment such as respiratory devices and protective gear underscored the weaknesses of supply chains largely dependent on Chinese producers.
International development cooperation risks being deeply affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with potentially disastrous consequences among fragile states.
As the Coronavirus pandemic expands, and peak contagion remains uncertain, policy responses are gradually emerging, being implemented in a number of domains.
The crisis has several important implications, but two are currently dominating the headlines: individual health and the sustainability of national healthcare systems, and the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic will negatively affect the defence field from a budgetary, industrial and politico-strategic point of view, particularly in Europe. Depending on the pandemic’s duration, its economic consequences and national and EU responses, effects may range from contained damages to a much wider European security crisis.
COVID19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus that has rapidly turned into a pandemic, could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. The international liberal order, as well as the European Union within it, has been in trouble for years now. The EU has been shaken by the successive Eurozone and migration crises, while its surrounding regions were spiralling into conflict and outright collapse. COVID19 could be the final nail in the coffin of a rules-based international order and the European project within it. But it could also give birth to a new phoenix rising from its ashes. Much will depend on how Europe, both internally and internationally, will confront this epochal crisis.