2020 - COVID-19 AND TRANSATLANTIC SECURITY

Lord CAMPBELL OF PITTENWEEM (United Kingdom)

19 June 2020

“A global pandemic is not a question of if, but when and how bad”. Variations of this statement have over the years been repeated by countless health experts, yet when in late 2019 a novel coronavirus  emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan, much of the world found itself woefully ill prepared. According to estimates by Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, by mid-June 2020, the virus had infected more than 8 million people worldwide and led to more than 400 thousand deaths. The actual number of victims is likely to be considerably higher . In early April, half of the world’s population was ordered or recommended to avoid social contact. 

The outbreak overstrained healthcare systems in hardest-hit countries and wreaked havoc on education systems .The world is heading for the worst global economic downturn in a century . Although, at the time of writing, countries around the world are attempting to restore some kind of normality, a full return to the status quo ante will require the development and mass deployment of a vaccine – which according to generous estimates could take months (Roubini, 2020). A second wave of the outbreak is widely considered to be plausible. 

The crisis of this magnitude cannot but have a major impact on international affairs as well as on transatlantic security. This special report will examine how the outbreak turned into a security crisis and how it affected global politics, including effects on globalisation and great power competition. The report will pay a particular attention to NATO’s response and what the crisis tells us about the level of solidarity within the Euro-Atlantic community. Finally, the Rapporteur will share some ideas on ways for the Alliance to adapt to the post-COVID strategic environment and to use the crisis as an opportunity to bolster the Alliance’s cohesion and the transatlantic link.