Covid-19 as a political challenge at national and international levels


The project deals with the national and international political implications of the pandemic crisis, especially in Finland and at the level of the European Union (EU). We analyse the preparedness for pandemics, the responses to the Covid-19 crisis, and the broad political repercussions of the pandemic to date.

We divide the coronavirus crisis into three stages: the preparedness phase prior to the emergence of the crisis, the crisis phase itself and, to the extent possible, the lessons learned phase. Based on this division, the main research questions are: How were pandemics discussed and framed in the various preparedness documents? How are key Finnish politicians responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, and what was the broader European and global context in which these responses were framed? How did the actions of decision-makers reflect the existing plans and strategies?

When it comes to the preparation phase, the project examines how the threats posed by pandemics have been described in the Finnish context with its comprehensive security approach. What type of documents and processes form the basis of Finland’s current pandemic preparedness?

The project analyses the EU’s disease prevention plans and how they relate to the plans and measures adopted by Member States. Through “case Finland”, the project explores the interplay between Member States and the EU. 

We study the actual crisis phase according to the different waves of the pandemic. Regarding the first wave, the project focuses on the public statements and measures by the Finnish political leadership in January–May 2020, analysing Finland’s awakening to the crisis as well as the exceptional economic effects of Covid-19. In terms of the second wave, the project deals with challenges and ownership of competences, the international coherence of policies, and the restrictions on free movement. We explore the final stage of the pandemic thematically by looking into the policies concerning Covid-19 vaccinations. The project is also interested in the direct and indirect fluctuations in the international system, to which the ongoing pandemic contributes.

At the EU level, the project assesses the potential consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for European integration. Is the EU able to respond to health threats, which requires cooperation at many levels and in different sectors, as well as to their economic consequences?

Although the actual focus of the research is not global, the role of multilateral cooperation forums (the UN and the WHO) and great powers in the field of health security is discussed to provide a context for the developments in the EU and in Finland. How do the EU and Finland relate to these global arenas? How does the global level affect the way in which the lower levels operate? 

Crisis preparedness, values, legitimacy, and trust are key focal points of the research.

The project will produce academic research, briefing papers and seminars, and will continue until May 2021.

FIIA research team: Director Mika Aaltola, Research Fellow Johanna Ketola, and Research Assistants Aada Peltonen and Karoliina Vaakanainen

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