Berlin – ESI in online debate: "Can the EU Survive the Democratic Decline after the Pandemic?"

9 June 2020
Photo: Robert Bosch Academy
Photo: Robert Bosch Academy

ESI's Gerald Knaus participated in an online debate on states of emergency organised by the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. Other participants were Zsuzsanna Szelényi (Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow, Robert Bosch Academy), Rosa Balfour (Director, Carnegie Europe), and others.

Many European countries introduced states of emergency to tackle the Coronavirus crisis. There is strong evidence that some governments have abused the opportunity to expand their political power. This is certainly the case in Hungary and Poland, where illiberal leaderships have for years stoked concern in the EU. But ethno-populist parties with agendas much like Hungary's Fidesz and Poland's Law and Justice party are prominent in many other European countries as well, and they can grow larger because of the social anxiety exacerbated by the pandemic. 

The discussion focused on issues such as:

  • Will autocratization impact the EU's ability to act effectively?
  • Could European foreign policy face yet greater challenges in the crisis's aftermath?
  • Can anti-democratic practices spread to other European countries?
  • Can the EU survive if ever more member states deny the primacy of rule of law and norms of liberal democracy?
  • What can the EU do to stop these troubling trends?