The COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in crucial economic and political changes globally. In the emergency situations, extraordinary measures by governments can be necessary, but democratic institutions and minority rights must be respected. Beyond the national level, in the European Union the coronavirus could cause a backsliding in integration as borders are closed, the movement of persons is restricted and distrust in international organisations might grow. Nevertheless, citizens in populist regimes are witnessing how the constricted public sphere and crooked governance leads to policy failures. Also, the need for international cooperation when challenging global risks might give a new momentum for the European integration.
In our conference we wish to introduce how central European countries coped with the first wave of the pandemic and what the governments intend to do when dealing with the second wave. We will also discuss how the European Union can help the region and the importance of local communities and municipal governments during the pandemic.