Dr. Fabrizio Tassinari is the Executive Director of School of Transnational Governance, European University Institute, Florence, Italy. He has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen. In an exclusive interview with NEPAL FIRST, Dr. Tassinari highlights the impacts of Covid-19 on world politics from a European perspective.
How is the Covid-19 situation in Italy? What could be its lasting impacts?
For all the flaws and mistakes in the initial Italian response, Italy was above all unlucky to be the first European country to be hit by the virus. The lack of preparation or ability to see the scale of the challenge was mostly attributable to that. The government responded as well as could be expected, considering that healthcare is a regional prerogative in Italy. For the country, the coronavirus is a health crisis, an economic crisis and will likely be a political crisis.
China helped Italy medically with Covid-19 response while the European Union shied away. What changes will these dynamics bring in the coming days? Will the crisis strengthen or weaken EU?
In the short run the EU was weaker, even European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recognized delays in the response. But in the long-run the EU has taken on an increasingly bigger role and one that could be said will strengthen the Union—for example in protecting member states from the economic shock of Covid-19. As always, the problem lies in the disconnection between member states and EU institutions.
What are your thoughts on the impacts of the novel coronavirus in the history of humanity and world politics?
There is a risk to over analyze certain events and, as a sort wishful denial, play down their future impact. But aside from the fact that this crisis is not over and no-one can say how long it will last, I think it is fair to say that already now it has proven how quickly and radically it has upended some of the values and practices of the liberal order: from free movement to privacy. Whether this impact will be lasting is too early to tell, but it is up to the common sense and resilience of our institutions.
What do you think will be the political and economical position of the United States, EU and China in a post-coronavirus world order?
It may be too early to predict. Despite opacity in the communication during the initial phase of the contagion, in the short run China has emerged victorious in its fight against the coronavirus. The US has displayed an erratic leadership and EU initial fragmentation. In the long run, if the EU manages to restore some of its core values – openness of borders, protection of privacy, etc. in the post-corona environment, it may well come out well.