Brussels, 13 April 2021
EaP CSF COVID-19 Policy Paper: COVID-19’s potential for change in the EaP countries
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed many social, economic and political vulnerabilities of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. It is the right time to introduce and promote reforms to ensure the region’s societal resilience. This policy paper provides an overview of key findings from the seven thematic papers published earlier and suggests a set of policy solutions for change and more effective adaptability towards possible similar situations in the future.
The EaP region has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 crisis, having interconnected consequences involving central and local authorities, businesses, and civil society. In the past months, EaP CSF analysed the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on seven thematic areas: freedom of speech, access to education, digital literacy, waste and water management, SME’s digitalisation, decentralisation, and labour migration. The final policy paper analyses the lessons learnt in all seven areas and examines the COVID-19’s potential for change in the EaP countries.
The paper notes that most deficiencies manifested during the crisis were known beforehand, thus, EaP governments should seize the moment and accelerate reforms, which will increase societal resilience in the post-pandemic times. Moreover, good governance is key for dealing with changing societies and future crises of such proportions. Therefore, fostering a local ecosystem of civil society organisations, business intermediaries and academia is an important aspect for societal resilience.
Maintaining continuous cooperation with local businesses and civil society organisations, assisting them in developing relevant skills and competencies, and encouraging their proactive approach to addressing people’s needs should be the focus of the post-pandemic governmental reforms in the countries. Furthermore, EaP governments should guarantee digital literacy and access to the internet infrastructure for ensuring a sustained digitalisation of SMEs, educational institutions and other areas. Finally, more effective domestic and international mechanisms should be developed to prevent the authorities from curtailing freedom of speech and media, which serve as guarantors of democratic societies.