Public anxiety over the Covid-19 crisis grew steadily from January 2020 onwards. As the fatalities increased in Europe, public attention reached a tipping point in mid-March. The galvanized attention became significant enough to propel policy changes and states of emergency in the EU and its member states. The pandemic had suddenly become a prevailing theme of politics and decision-making. As Covid-19 dominated public attention, the role of decision-makers came under the spotlight. Political accountability and legitimacy were publicly measured and evaluated by anxious electorates. At what point between January and March of 2020 did politicians start to react, in what ways, and with what sense of urgency?

This paper assesses the role played by decision-makers in the EU, particularly in Finland. It details the general response patterns, the fast dissemination of response models in the form of policy plans and, through a single-country case study, the relatively slow awakening to the harsher security and health realities of the pandemic. In the continued absence of effective global pandemic security governance, the uncertainties of the Covid-19 situation will likely be repeated in policymaking in future pandemics and other types of global challenges.

Mika Aaltola
Johanna Ketola
Research Fellow
Aada Peltonen
Karoliina Vaakanainen
Research Assistant