Headline: Strategic crisis management in the European Union

Crises like climate change, the recent pandemic and the war in Ukraine have a profound effect on all of us. Crises are growing in number, severity and complexity, and at an accelerating pace. The connectedness of European societies increases their vulnerability, and today’s crises have multiple cascading and rippling effects that can extend to all parts of society, the economy and environment. The need for effective strategic crisis management is evident and, given the increasingly transboundary nature of crises, the EU has emerged as an important player. Crisis management can be highly sectoral and not always geared to effective performance over the long term, especially when crises become protracted. The consequences of failed or ineffective crisis management can be severe, with rising inequalities and negative impacts such as political fragmentation, societal polarisation and economic disruption. Recent crises have illustrated starkly the need for preparation, improved capacity and resources. This Evidence Review Report is designed to address issues described in the scoping paper,1 which sets out the formal request for advice from the European College of Commissioners to the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors to the European Commission. This report synthesises the evidence in response to the main question from the scoping paper: Based on a broad and multidisciplinary understanding, how can the EU improve its strategic crisis management? This report focuses on the strategic level, involving those decision-makers and policymakers who are responsible and accountable for the outcome of a crisis. During the response phase in particular, strategic issues are often neglected because of the urgent need to act and react. For a response to be effective, it is essential to develop rapid decision-making capabilities and appropriate resources. Although crises are all different in terms of their type, duration and governance arrangements, there are underlying principles that are common to their management. This report identifies fundamental generic principles and frameworks that relate to the roles played by the EU in strategic crisis management. It provides concrete examples of past and ongoing crises, reflecting on trends and developments in the field. Importantly, it embeds strategic crisis management within the context of risk and resilience.


Comes, T., Alexander, D., Boin, A., Eckert, C., Elmqvist, T., Fochesato, M., Helbing, D., Latusek-Jurczak, D., Lauta, K., Meriläinen, E., Nikkari, S., Papadimitratos, P., Renn, O., Insua, D. R., Rizza, C., & Zio, E.(2022). Strategic crisis management in the European Union. Berlin: SAPEA.

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