The Covid-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented crisis of social, political and economic systems throughout Europe and the world. Since March 2020, European countries, regions and cities have taken diverse measures to try and contain the spread of the virus. These measures, while aiming at easing pressure on the health care systems, have had far-reaching impacts on many sectors of economic activity across the continent. Policymakers at all levels of governance require territorial evidence to be able to develop policy measures to cope with the immediate effects of the pandemic in the short-term and to manage its long-term impacts.
This applied research activity sets out to contribute to the delivery of such territorial evidence by analysing the geographical patterns of the Covid-19 pandemic from its onset until as far as possible into 2021. The project also examines regional policy responses to Covid-19 and whether the pandemic has created a window of opportunity for regional authorities to take regional strategies and policies in new medium and long term directions in relation to the just transition, green transition and smart transition.
The project will answer the following key research questions:
- What does the geographical pattern of the Covid-19 pandemic look like across European regions and cities and how has it evolved since the beginning of the pandemic? Are there specific territorial and/or socio-economic characteristics that can entail a higher risk of death/more severe course of disease and/or higher probabilities of negative socio-economic impacts?
- Which factors explain best the level of exposure of cities, regions and functional urban areas to the Covid-19 pandemic? How can different exposure levels in different types of territories be explained?
- To which degree have poverty, social inequalities and social exclusion been affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures? Can local wealth conditions, poverty or inequalities explain why territories are more or less affected by the virus diffusion?
- Which ‘proactive’ policy approaches to coping with the pandemic during and after the first wave have proved to be working well for European regions and cities? Has it been possible to use “windows of opportunities” opened by the pandemic?
- How important has multi-level and cross-sectoral governance been in responding to the pandemic? Have decisions taken by local authorities had an impact beyond their administrative borders? How has the pandemic affected cooperation at the metropolitan/functional regional level?
- How can territorial cooperation frameworks, tools and resources for cross–border regions be strengthened in times of crises?