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The institutional response to the Covid challenge: how parliaments and governments have responded to the pandemic

Presented at the International Webinar on Covid-19 and Law
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (the National University of Malaysia)
18 February 2021

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The institutional response to the Covid challenge: how parliaments and governments have responded to the pandemic

  1. 1. THE INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSE TO THE COVID CHALLENGE: HOW PARLIAMENTS AND GOVERNMENTS HAVE RESPONDED TO THE PANDEMIC Dr Fotis Fitsilis Head of Department for Scientific Documentation and Supervision, Scientific Service Hellenic Parliament International Webinar on Covid-19 and Law 18 February 2021
  2. 2. STRUCTURE  General remarks  The Greek use case  Institutional responses  International examples  Alternative approaches  Discussion  Conclusions
  3. 3. F OR THE RECORD GENERAL REMARKS  This is an on-going crisis  Dynamic response … no flat, ‘one-size-fits-all’ decisions  Legal and administrative nightmare  Lack of foreseeable end  Evaluation of response could be wrong …or biased  A wider research framework is needed  Comparative studies useful  Analysis of first response
  4. 4. LEGAL GROUNDS Example: Greece (now in its third lockdown situation)  Executive orders / ‘Acts of Legislative Content’ (PNP’s)  Greek Constitution: art. 44  To be ratified by parliament within 40 days  PNP  Law 4682/2020: ‘Urgent measures to avoid and limit the spread of the corona virus’  Many more followed  approx. 500, see Sotiropoulos, 2021  Extensive web of bylaws and administrative decisions
  5. 5. USE OF ‘SOFT LAW’ Key issues  Informal rules  Regulations  Guidelines  Codes  Non-legally, but politically binding  See Stefan, O.A. (2020) and Rajamani, L. (2009) ‘informal code, so-called “rules of conduct”, which produces legal and practical effects without having legally binding force’
  6. 6. T HE G REEK C ASE GOVERNMENTAL FIRST RESPONSE  Shift and tele-working  Speedy, emergency recruitments for battling the pandemic, 15,306 till Nov. 2020 + Rapid development of digital skills + Development of informal inter- institutional networks to ‘get-the-job- done’ - Delays on several occasions - Stressful and unknown environment
  7. 7. o Portugal: administrative modernization service, collects data on which units where available to the public with physical present o Slovenia/Spain/Austria: unified deadline extension granted, e.g. for taxes & certificates INTERNATIONAL GOOD PRACTICE A
  8. 8. o Latvia/Belgium/France: granted higher autonomy to higher public service officials (delegation of power) o Singapore/Greece/…: Distribution of latest epidemic data with public, private and social stakeholders See e.g. https://covid19.gov.gr/ INTERNATIONAL GOOD PRACTICE B
  9. 9. PARLIAMENTARY RESPONSES  Maintaining institutional balance  Providing legitimacy to executive actions  Up keeping the democratic principle  Global and regional surveys, e.g.  Inter-Parliamentary Union  Westminster Foundation for Democracy  ParlAmericas  Inter Pares  Study of Parliament Group
  10. 10. T HE H ELLENIC P ARLIAMENT THE FIRST PARLIAMENTARY RESPONSE o Adjustment of parliamentary work to social distancing o Set an example for society o Plenary: limited presence and speaking time o Standing committees: continued working o Special permanent committees: mostly suspended o Parliamentary control: limited to once a week
  11. 11. ADMINISTRATION & MANAGEMENT  Safety personnel  Home office / VPN access  Digital transformation path opened  Teleconferencing  VPN access  Digital platforms and services  Strengthening of …  digital infrastructure  digital ‘way of doing things’  digital skills
  12. 12. CONCLUSIONS & OUTLOOK  Diverse responses  Digital transformation  Lots of informal conduct  Open questions:  What if it strikes again?  Sustainability of solutions?  Research framework?  Legal challenges around a vaccination certificate? ‘digital evolution goes hand-in-hand with organizational transformation’
  13. 13. DISCLAIMER The information and views set out in this presentation and the proposed study are only those of the authors and do not reflect the official opinion of the Hellenic Parliament. THANK YOU! fitsilisf@parliament.gr https://fitsilis.gr

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