Europe to the rescue? EU funds and the COVID-19 crisis – who gets what, how and why

1 May 2020

In recent weeks, the divisions between North and South, as well as the creation of European corona bonds have dominated most European debates. At the same time, there has been contradictory information regarding the financial aid mobilised by Brussels in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The objectives of this brief analysis are twofold. First, it seeks to clarify and provide an overview of what European Union (EU) financial resources have been mobilised so far to fight the pandemic, what is their distribution and towards whom. Secondly, it discusses the problematic aspects surrounding the financial support offered by Brussels and the Member States. Overall, I argue that although the current European rescue package is significant in size, when designing and presenting it, EU institutions and Member States faced several communication, financial and politico-administrative obstacles, often of their own making. This might explain, at least partially, why so many members of the European public are still sceptical or have a negative attitude towards the EU’s response to the coronavirus crisis.

Cristian Surubaru

Neculai-Cristian Surubaru is a postdoctoral researcher at Studio Europa within the Maastricht Working on Europe (MWOE) programme of Maastricht University. He works on the academic Theme 1:  Democracy, Politics, Security and Rule of Law. 

His research focuses on European politics, democracy and the relationship between old and new member states, looking at East-West tensions and how they affect EU integration.  

As a political scientist, he has worked on theoretical issues regarding administrative/state capacity & politicisation, empirically assesing these concepts in relation to the management and implementation of EU funds in Central and Eastern Europe. His articles have been published in journals such as Journal of Common Market Studies, Regional Studies, European Politics and Society, East European Politics and the Romanian Journal of European Affairs. His research on the EU's performance in Central and Eastern European countries (with Prof Dimitris Papadimitriou and Dr Dorina Baltag) has been published by Routledge (2018).    

Cristian is also affiliated as an Associate Researcher with the European Policies Research Centre (EPRC) of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow where he has worked on policy evaluations and research for the European institutions and national governments. Moreover, Cristian is an Affiliated Expert (ex member of the board) of Europuls - Centre of European Expertise, an active Romanian think-tank based in Brussels, where he was one of the initiators of the annual European forum - Eurosfat