Europe After Coronavirus: The EU and a New Political Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a health and economic crisis without modern parallel. The scale of its effects could prompt a far-reaching re-evaluation of the role of the state in relation to the market in Europe. This paper is a thought experiment examining the consequences of a change in Europe’s political economy and the potential implications for the European project. The current form of the European Union, centred on the single market and the single currency, evolved during a period of economic liberalization. If the COVID-19 crisis leads to a larger role for the state and a move away from market-oriented policies, the EU will face a challenge in accommodating that change. In particular, attempts by member states to pursue more interventionist approaches could lead to clashes within the EU – especially around fiscal policy and taxation, labour markets and redistribution, and industrial policy.