Multilevel Governance in Europe: the case of Covid-19 pandemics

The EU3D project, coordinated by ARENA, the University of Venice, Ca Foscari, the University of Oxford and the University of Oslo will organise a conference on multilevel governance and the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe on 9-10 May 2022. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is said to underline the primacy of nation states in Europe. Power has been reclaimed by national capitals from the EU, regions and cities, national borders have been reinstated and reinforced, huge national infrastructure projects have been launched, and the national health service has been rehabilitated. However, the reality on the ground displaces a much more complex European governance system. States have indeed raised their voice, but their ability to control the spread of the virus and economic fallouts of the pandemics proved modest at best. The pandemic has indeed showed the need for public authority, but this authority was partly at the state level, partly at the local level and partly at the international one. In many cases, states have proved to be the weakest link in this complex network of governance and have acted in selfish, crude and clumsy ways. Political actors heralding the return of the state cannot even agree on the most desired role of the states. For right-wing politicians in Hungary, Poland or Italy the state is about regaining sovereignty from Brussels. For left-wing politicians in Germany or France the state is chiefly a vehicle for protecting the welfare system from globalization and neoliberal recklessness. For politicians in Latvia or Cyprus the state is a shield against a powerful neighbor. States claim to be the only sites of viable democracy, but during the pandemic some basic freedoms have been restricted, parliaments have been side-lined, and citizens were bombarded by numerous arbitrary decrees with no public consultation and deliberation. Transnational and local actors proved not only needed to combat the pandemics, but they often managed to offer more innovative and participatory solutions to the health crisis than was the case with states. In short, the multi-level governance in Europe has not fell victims of COVID-19; in fact, the pandemic has underlined its importance and vitality.

This conference will analyse how the pandemics has affected the European system of governance, with a special emphasis on the role of Europe’s cities in combatting the health crisis and its economic, social and democratic side effects. Was there a distinct urban way of combatting COVID-19? Have the existing laws and regulations helped or hampered cities’ work? How has the interplay between various levels of governance evolved during the pandemic? We will look at these questions from a theoretical and empirical perspective. The approach will be comparative, and interdisciplinary.

Participation in Venice upon invitation. If you want to follow the conference on Zoom, please register below to receive Zoom links (note that there is a separate registration for each day).

If you have any questions, please contact Jan Zielonka or Geir Kværk

Conference Schedule

Monday 9 May 2022

14:30 - 16:00    Welcome: Rector and the Conveners

Intervention of Professor Giuseppe Conte, former Prime Minister of Italy 


Chairs: Stefano Soriani, University of Venice, and Jan Zielonka, University of Oxford

16:00 - 16:30   Coffee Break

16:30 - 18:00 Session 1
Theories and Concepts

  • John Erik Fossum, University of Oslo
    Differentiated integration
  • Simona Piattoni, University of Trento
    Multi-level governance 
  • Gerard Delanty, University of Sussex
    Sociology of the Pandemics
  • Chair: Erik Jones, European University Institute in Florence

18:00 - 19:30 Session 2
Governing the Health Emergency

  • Magnus Ekengren, Swedish Defence University
    Political Decision-Making in the Covid-19 Pandemic
  • Helga Nowotny, ETH Zurich
    Trust and distrust in advanced techno-scientific systems
  • Jonathan White, London School of Economics
    Governing by Emergency in the EU
  • Chair: Jan Zielonka, University of Oxford

Tuesday 10 May 2022

09:30 - 11:00 Session 3
Territorial Restructuring and Political Change 

  • Yuri Kazepov, University of Vienna
    Cities in the Multi-level Governance
  • Luiza Bialasiewicz, University of Amsterdam
    The contested geographies of pandemic governance
  • Ramona Coman, Free University in Brussels
    Sovereignty Conflicts in Europe
  • Chair: Simona Piattoni, University of Trento

11:00 - 11: 30 Coffee Break

11:30 - 13:00 Session 4
Cities, Pandemics and Urban Governance

  • Saskia Sassen, Columbia University
    Urban Fragilities in the Era of Pandemics
  • Filippo Celata, Sapienza University in Rome, and Raffaella Coletti, ISSiRFA-CNR
    Urban governance, re-nationalisation and rescaling
  • Jacek Żakowski, Collegium Civitas, Warsaw
    Cities in the era of pandemics, war and migration
  • Chair: Stefano Soriani, University of Venice

15:00 - 16:30 Session 5
Transnational Urban Networks

  • Vanesa Castan Broto, University of Sheffield
    Climate Urbanism
  • Dariusz Wójcik, University of Oxford
    The Geo-economics of Global Cities
  • Raffaele Marchetti and Manfredi Valeriani, LUISS Rome
    City Diplomacy in the Pandemic
  • Chair: Janna van Diepen, University of Oslo

16:30 - 17:30 Conclusions

  • Chair: John Erik Fossum, University of Oslo
Published May 4, 2022 12:08 PM - Last modified June 21, 2022 3:39 PM