The coronavirus crisis may turn out to be a bump in the road for recent international dynamics. After a period of hibernation in the major global economies, perhaps life will return to normal, the storm weathered thanks to stimulus plans, and the world will once again be flat and hyperconnected. Alternatively, coronavirus may be a turning point in the era of globalisation.
Questions will be asked about our democracies, the authoritarian regimes of others and the values of different societies; changes in the international order, especially at an ideational level; the rise of populism and “my country first” discourse; the prospects for international cooperation in a rejigged global order; and the role of the European Union.
Either way, the coronavirus crisis will confront us with certain lessons:
- It will strengthen the ideational shift in the international system, and despite initial management errors, China’s normative power may grow.
- In the debate over whether authoritarian regimes or democracies are better equipped to deal with crises such as coronavirus, the key factor is the effectiveness of the measures, not the type of political regime implementing them.
- The need for expert knowledge and institutions to manage the crisis reveal the limits of populism.
- No single power will have the capacity to write the rules of a new global re-ordering by itself.
- People’s health and safety have regained centrality, meaning the European project will have to better protect its citizens and guarantee progress on the social construction.