A Multi-Level Approach to Tackling the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic and Its Aftermath


Objectives: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic brought about a new, difficult situation. The world, the international
organisations-cum-regional integration arrangements, as well as, above all, individual states all had to cope with the difficult global situation. As for the European Union, neither the Union nor the Member States were prepared for such a challenge, which is why the responses were ad hoc and uncoordinated. The aim of this study is to identify the actors involved, the measures they employed, and the extent to which their reactions converged. Another objective is to answer the question about whether their actions fit into the concept of multi-level coordination-cum-multi-level governance.

Research Design & Methods: The methods used in this article are descriptive and interpretative as well as comparative. The descriptive method is applied in all these instances where actions taken by individual actors are discussed, while the interpretative method is employed when the reasons for taking particular measures are explained. In turn, the comparative approach is applied whenever measures taken by individual actors are juxtaposed. This analytical study also provides an overview of official documents along with the relevant literature.

Findings: In the face of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic – when imminent and consistent response is essential, and when there are many decision-making centres – it is measures taken at different levels and by various actors (but jointly coordinated) that can only bring the desirable results. The measures taken in the struggle against the pandemic and its consequences also prove that the EU’s competences, albeit limited, do matter.

Implications / Recommendations: When the primary competence in the field of public health lies with the Member
States and the EU can only support and complement state actions, then a permanent, institutionalised cooperation, one based on a multilateral agreement, is worth considering.

Contribution / Value Added: In the case of international and regional organisations, and those with a global reach,
a major drawback is the lack of appropriate competences and instruments. In the EU, the lack of a systemic security mechanism anchored in the EU’s law makes it act with delay. On the one hand, this study points to the shortcomings in legal solutions, but on the other, it demonstrates the importance of joint and coordinated actions. It also shows that competences of non-state actors do matter, too.


SARS-CoV-2; European Union; multilevel governance; coordination; crisis

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Published : 2021-09-02

Kabat-Rudnicka, D. (2021). A Multi-Level Approach to Tackling the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic and Its Aftermath. Public Governance / Zarządzanie Publiczne, 53(3), 60-73. https://doi.org/10.15678/ZP.2020.53.3.05

Danuta Kabat-Rudnicka  kabatd@uek.krakow.pl


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