Europe’s global role in response to the COVID-19 economic crisis

The Dahrendorf Forum has organized an online panel discussion for the Global Solutions online Summit 2020 on the opportunity for an enhanced role for Europe in global governance through its response to the COVID-19 economic crisis. See the video here.


Iain BEGG, Professorial Research Fellow at the European Institute and Co-Director of the Dahrendorf Forum, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

Marco BUTI, Head of Cabinet for Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, at the European Commission

Jayati GHOSH, Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates

Sahoko KAJI, Professor of Economics at Keio University and Academic Director of the all-English economics programme PEARL.


Christine OCKRENT, Editor in chief, France Culture radio

Global Table on the Future of Multilateralism and Global Governance: Is Europe poised to exercise leadership in global governance in responding to the COVID-19 economic crisis?

Despite being of comparable economic weight to the US and China, its most prominent global competitors, Europe has not been as influential as a power in global governance. Lacking the ‘hard power’ derived from military capabilities, it has laid claim to a ‘soft power’ of normative influence externally, yet even only partially utilised. Nor, despite some successes, has Europe been able to exercise the power to coerce – ‘sharp power’ – as systematically as its global rivals. Yet it should be recalled not only are five European countries members of the G20, but also the European Union (EU) is a member in its own right.

In a recent scenario exercise, conducted prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the Dahrendorf Forum developed eight policy proposals aimed at countering Europe´s vulnerabilities and enabling it to assert its sharp and soft power more effectively. Specifically, they considered the feasibility, means and scope for their realisation to provide a transformative agenda for the EU’s position in the world.

In light of the current COVID-19 crisis and against the backdrop of the severe global economic downturn authors and commentators of this report build on the analytic approach in these scenarios and debated the following questions:

  • As in 2008/9, a coordinated response to the economic crisis is required, but both China and the US have orientated their policy responses mainly towards domestic priorities. With a significant fiscal stimulus – for the first time – being implemented by the EU, in addition to the already substantial national packages, how well placed is Europe to lead in the G20? 
  • Is a more internationalised euro still a realistic ambition and can it, too, become a tool for a better coordinated response?
  • What is next for the WTO in the face of US intransigence?