High politics in the Low Countries: COVID-19 and the politics of strained multi-level policy cooperation in Belgium and the Netherlands

Toon Van Overbeke*, Diederik Stadig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

COVID-19 presented Europe with an, in many respects, unprecedented challenge. While the virus proved itself to be transnational in nature, not taking heed of borders, government responses were largely national. Still, governments soon found themselves engaged in complex multi-level policy cooperation at the national, subnational, and supranational levels. This paper looks at the crisis response in the Low Countries (Belgium and the Netherlands) to understand the impact of this process on the political system. We argue that efficient multi-level policy cooperation in both countries has run up against the limits of existing institutions, leading to significant political grievances. In Belgium, slow negotiation between the central and regional governments has put the federal system in question. In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the absence of European institutions tasked with fiscal policy coordination has increased the salience of the EU fiscal sphere once again.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-317
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Policy Analysis
Volume6
Issue number2
Early online date18 Nov 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • EU
  • federalism
  • Low Countries
  • policy coordination

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