Global cooperation and isolationism: In the times of pandemic

Over the decade’s numerous crises have hit global governance systems. These crises include economic, social, and political problems. Tracing these crises, the cooperation between states and organizations have led to major transformations in their relations. Ranging from climatic changes, environmental problems, technology and trade wars, ethnic conflicts and religious intolerance are some of the major daunting challenges which countries are facing across the world. Apart from it, the manifestation  of political violence is escalating globally. Before the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic, trade wars among states and climate change were often perceived as major threats to global peace.   

As COVID-19 raged world early this year, there has been a drastic shift in the focus, firstly how to tackle this fatal contagion and secondly political systems. It also emphasizes an urgency to adopt and reform strategies concerning health.  However, western countries have better health policies than in developing countries. Unlike the political crisis, the contagion has also prepared the world to be ready for the next crisis. The outbreak of deadly contagion has reminded Europeans of annihilation aftermaths of World War.

According to Ivan Krastev and Mark Leonard, “The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the US divided in its response to the present crisis and haunted by its history. If Trump’s America struggles so much to help itself, how can it be expected to help anyone else? If this domestic chaos continues, many Europeans could come to see the US as a broken hegemon that cannot be entrusted with the defense of the Western world”. American isolationist policy is no more an alien concept. China too seems busy in territorial expansion and border confrontations with India. Both America and China are not willing to find a common ground to combat the global pandemic. However, the situation has dramatically changed revealing a looming deficiency in political entities including states and non-state actors (multilateral organizations) such as the UN and EU.

According to the survey conducted by (ecfr), many European countries are not satisfied with the EU’s role during the pandemic. The power vacuum in partnership has escalated many issues with it. However, the EU has successfully transformed the power rivalry and distrust between European countries and has led to the formation of new political order employing socioeconomic and political cooperation. Leaders of the EU such as Angela Markel and Ursula Von are early working for the most pressing issue raised due to COVID-19. German Chancellor, Angela Markel has promised to make COVID-19 a “global public good”. European Commission President UrsulaVon der Leyen has said, “We need to bring the world, its leaders and people together against coronavirus. In just 10 days, we will launch a global pledging effort. Because beating coronavirus requires a global response and sustained actions on many fronts. We need to develop a vaccine, to produce it and deploy it to every corner of the world. And we need to make it available at affordable prices.”

European Commission is set to launch new budget plans (2021-2027) as a recovery plan. In addition to it, the EU has further extended its funding program for sustainability and recovery measures.

Last week, the EU leaders held the longest deliberation to chalk out the recovery package and €1 trillion budget plan for the next seven years. However, EU leaders remained divided on various issues as Mateusz Morawiecki Polish Prime Minister called it “highly probable”. Followed by the deadlock of finally EU leaders agreed to jointly borrow €750 in response to coronavirus pandemic. They also struct a deal of €1. 82 trillion budget and coronavirus packages. The proposed sums will be funneled mostly to the (Mediterranean coast) hardest-hit countries due to pandemic. The deal has been hailed globally as historic and a landmark victory so far. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said. “We need … an ambitious solution because our citizens expect nothing less from us.”

The problem-solving approach of the EU has gained huge applause, but the situation remains grim ahead of coronavirus impacting badly. EU is internally facing some serious threats of xenophobia, refugee crises, border issues, environment, and climate crisis, and increased crime rate and terrorism. European bloc has witnessed the death of 135,000 people due to the contagion. The European Union has emerged as a successful partner combating the outbreak of the virus. Last month, the EU has hosted a program to raise funds for vaccines and medical treatment against coronavirus.

No doubt, many countries have lent support from each other but intend to tackle pandemic unilaterally rather multilaterally. The terrible wave of pandemic has submerged large and powerful countries like China, Italy, Spain, the US, France, Iran, and India while small countries were less vulnerable. Apart from state and non-state entities, the pandemic has risked the life of refugees, migrant workers, sex workers, and homeless people further exposing them to violence. The recovery missions to tackle COVID-19 taken by the EU is not enough, it requires cooperation, resilience, and dedication of all countries and non-state entities. But the current scenario displays a different picture in terms of cooperation globally.

Ambreen Yousuf
Ambreen Yousuf
Research scholar in European Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia-New Delhi.