EU Green Recovery in the post-Covid-19 Period (GreenRec)

The beginning of 2020 was marked by spread of Covid-19, a new virus with at that time unknown properties, mortality, and long-term health consequences. Measures employed to slow spread of the virus seemed to have a positive effect on the fight against the pandemic, however, there have been also economic and social consequences as these measures impacted economic activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has thus had negative impact not only on population’s health, but also on virtually all aspects of society and economy.

Energy sector has been influenced in two main ways. First, it was impacted similarly to other sectors of economy – by slowing down the economic activities, there was less requirement for many products including energy sources (and fuels). Second, the pandemic influenced long-term energy transition that was at the time of its outbreak on the way in several world regions, including the European Union. The EU has developed a set of tools to fight the economic and social consequences of the pandemic (the Next Generation EU fund and adjusted multiannual financial framework 2021-2027). To support its green priorities, the Union assigned 30% of these recovery funds to programmes that will contribute to its 2050 goal of climate neutrality.

The main objective of the research is to examine challenges connected to green post-pandemic recovery from several perspectives (European, regional, national) and in several areas (political, social, and economic impacts of the pandemic in energy sector including coal phase out, the role of nuclear and renewables, etc.) described in individual working packages. The project team comprising of 17 members coming from five research institutions (including three faculties from the Comenius University) will study these issues via interdisciplinary lens thus contributing to our understanding of post-pandemic recovery and providing policy recommendation to the decision-makers.

Duration period: 01.07.2021 - 30.06.2024

Principal investigatorMatúš Mišík, PhD.

Total budget: 220 000 €

Supported by: This project was generously supported by the Slovak Research and Development Agency under the contract No. APVV-20-0012.

EVENTS

Project meeting - Second semester

The GreenRec research team met again on March 25, 2022, to discuss the state of partial GreenRec research projects. The main attention was given to the edited publication, currently under preparation. The team also discussed the necessary changes and amendments to the project as a result of the current geopolitical situation.

Central Europe, the EU and the UK: Building understanding and strengthening relationships

Matúš Mišík participated in a panel discussion on energy policy with the title "Central Europe, the EU and the UK: Building understanding and strengthening relationships". The panel discussion took place as a part of the joint event organized on March 17-18, 2022, by Aston University in Birmingham, Comenius University in Bratislava, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London. 

Clean Energy Transition conference

Matúš Mišík took part in a hybrid conference "Clean Energy Transition", where he was invited to give a talk on renewable energy policy. The event was organized by the British Embassy in the Slovak and Czech Republic.

Project meeting - First semester

The research team held an interim project meeting after the first semester on December 16, 2021. The aim was to discuss progress in individual working packages as well as in partial research projects conducted within the GreenRec project. Moreover, more research ideas and progress of individual research tasks were discussed as well.

Greening Energy Security in the V4 and Slovakia

Andrea Figulová gave an online lecture on the topic "Greening Energy Security in the V4 and Slovakia" on October 21, 2021, as a part of the seminar focused on "Progressive Foreign Policy in Germany and the EU" at the Faculty of Social Science of Charles University. The lecture was organized in cooperation with the Prague office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation (HBS) and Comenius University in Bratislava, aiming to combine a series of discussions with external experts with internal workshops on the given topics.

Special Issue Workshop

On 9th and 10th November 2021 Matúš Mišík and Andrej Nosko organized an online workshop to discuss contributions from proposed special issue for Energy Policy journal. Altogether 12 papers on post-pandemic green recovery in EU, UK, Canada and Russia from different perspectives were discussed.

GreenRec Kick-Off Meeting 

On 14th September 2021, GreenRec research team met for an online kick-off event. During the meeting, team members from all five participating research institutions presented their research ideas and publication as well as dissemination plans for the upcoming three years of collaboration were discussed. 

ABOUT THE PROJECT

GREENREC project aims to provide a unique insight into EU’s post-pandemic recovery. The project has three main aims, connected to its three main perspectives (European, regional, national). 

The first aim of the project is to examine the nature of the post-pandemic recovery within the EU from the empirical perspective and thus to contribute to the fast-growing research on this topic. The pandemic and the recovery from it bring many questions with the ability of the EU to use the necessary changes to boost energy transition by supporting green investments and green recovery being one of the main ones. The second aim of the project is to contribute to the theoretical discussion on energy transition. The project will examine individual partial issues connected to green recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic from the perspective of scholarship on energy transition. The third aim is to contribute to the ongoing policy discussion and therefore the project will be producing policy papers (and shorter policy briefs) in which proposed policies and current development will be discussed via the lens of the empirical research conducted within the project.

The project will consist of several working packages that will examine specific issues connected to post-pandemic recovery at the three studied level – European, regional, and national. These will look into particular questions linked to the consequences of Covid-19 and the effort of the EU and its members to make the recovery in line with the targets of the EGD. While working packages are focused at a particular level, they will communicate between themselves on issues connected to post-pandemic recovery in order to contribute to the main objective of the research. 


Working package 1: Political and policy aspects of EU’s post-pandemic green recovery. This working package will look at the nature of governance that will be created in connection to the NGEU fund and MMF for 2021-2027 in order to facilitate green recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. It will examine the process of developing national recovery plans as well as the inclusion of green objectives into them, within the context of regional, EU level and hybrid governance frameworks. It will in this way contribute to the discussion on (not only  energy and climate) governance within the EU. 

Working package 2: Economic aspects of EU’s post-pandemic green recovery will study the impact of green recovery on the EU’s economy based on the existing knowledge about the relationship between the growth and greening of economy. Relationship between economic aspects and green recovery in the EU will be analysed and studied through several dimensions. The first dimension will analyse relationship between GHG (different alternatives), share of RES, level of sustainable development in particular country, and macro-economical indicators like GDP, employment, and household consumption. The second dimension will study structural changes in industrial sectors inside countries as a result of green economy in order to identify key principal components of these changes. The third dimension will evaluate changes of post-pandemic period caused by impact of green economy on economic aspects of countries which will be compared with that of pre-pandemic period.

Working package 3: Renewables in the CEE region after the pandemic. Energy sector is one of the main pollutants due to its dependency on fossil fuels that are finite and not sustainable. In order to overcome this problem, increased development in the area of RES that were in some cases assisted by policy development since late 1980 exists. This working package will examine different strategies EU member states chose to support their energy transitions, and the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on these. As financial support is crucial for developing renewables and this has been one of the main challenge of the (not only) CEE region, we can expect the pandemic with its economic consequences to have a major impact on several member states’ willingness to keep supporting RES.  

Working package 4: The role of nuclear in the Visegrad Group countries after the pandemic. While the EU provides governance framework in energy and climate policy, the member states maintain their central role for energy mix composition choices. This is the key competence in the energy transition process. This working package will provide a case study to analyse how diverging national preferences, clustered at the regional level will form and get promoted on the EU level, given the divergent view on nuclear vis-à-vis and alongside RES. Additionally, it will look into the two-fold consequences of Covid-19 pandemic on nuclear energy within Visegrad Group: the negative financial consequences connected to overall worsening of economic performance due to the pandemic; and the role and impact of nuclear energy on the nature of post-pandemic recovery. 

Working package 5: Coal phase-out in Horná Nitra region. Although RES are considered to be the future of electricity generation in the EU and many countries have decided to phase-out coal from their electricity mixes, there are still several countries that use coal including Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. The competences regarding energy mix composition are fully in member states’ hands. This working group will use the case of Horná Nitra to examine how the pandemic have influenced relations between the EC and the member states and thus contribute to the research on this this relation. Another interesting venue of research is to look into the effects of particulate matter (coal dust) on Covid-19 prevalence and seriousness of health conditions. The main issue that we will examine in this area of inquiry is, whether the link between these two is publicized among the citizens what can make the transition towards ‘post-coal‘ more acceptable (some districts of Horná Nitra are among most seriously affected Covid-19 districts in the country).

Working package 6: The role of natural gas in green recovery. The Covid-19 pandemic fostered the discussion about utilisation of those energy sources that have an aspiration to decrease EU’s carbon footprint, however, there is not a unified position on their current or future use among EU’s member states. Besides nuclear energy also the long-term role of natural gas in European economy became questioned with a renewed intensity. This working package will look at ongoing discussions on the utilisation of natural gas within the EU, linked to energy security, lock-in, and energy transition via the prism of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the efforts to make the recovery green. The working package will thus ask questions including what is the place of natural gas in the energy mix of the post-pandemic EU, or if there is actually any place at all for this fossil fuel, and how short-to-medium term investments can through the sunk-costs influence future energy choices.

Working package 7: Post-pandemic recovery vs. disinformation, conspiracies and far right. Here we take a closer look at the positions and activities of actors who are in either denialist position towards the post-pandemic recovery plans or are taking active steps in countering such strategies. While the active role of radical political actors in the context of the conspiracy and disinformation spreading platforms were recently studied and it is recognized as a crucial in terms of Covid-19 pandemics as well, their role in either countering restrictive pandemic measures or post-pandemic recovery plans is another important field. This working package aims to look closer at how disinformation scene, with the support of far right in particular, position themselves against the reform plans that are formed particularly on the EU level and thus answer the question, on the more general level, how the far right frame their positions on the crisis of such scale within the traditional nationalist, protectionist and anti-EU attitudes.

Working package 8: Recommendations for policy makers and dissemination. As part of dissemination activities, and to assure knowledge is accessible to the active policymakers,  project team members will prepare policy papers and briefs. The main aim of these texts will be to provide recommendation for decision-makers at the policy level, thus contributing to evidence-informed decision-making process. 

PARTICIPATING RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS

The Department of Political Science (Faculty of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava) has long been regarded as an excellent political science institution with voluminous experience in implementing scientific projects both nationally and internationally. In the recent past, the Department was involved in a number of research projects in international and domestic grant schemes. The most prominent European projects include schemes such as Horizon 2020, FP7, and EEA Grants (Democratic governance and differentiation in Europe, EEA grants (SK06-IV-02-010); Increasing Resilience in Surveillance Societies (IRISS, Horizon 2020); New Public Governance in the Visegrad Group - from a traditional model to the paradigm of professionalism? (International Visegrad Fund); EUNPACK – A conflict sensitive unpacking of the EU comprehensive approach to conflict and crisis mechanisms (Horizon 2020). Within the framework of national scientific grant schemes the members of the Department of Political Science has led and implemented several scientific projects, among others also: European Union's Recognition Order and the Small Member States (APVV-145-0732); Institutional performance in Europe (APVV-0413-11); Cooperative activities of local authorities and measurement of their efficiency and effectiveness (APVV-15-0306); Changing patterns of EU foreign policy and the small member states (APVV-0484-10); APVV-16-0062 Priorities of the Central and Eastern European Countries in the context of Energy Union. 

Department of Political Science is at the same time the only political science institution in Slovakia that is a member of the prestigious organization European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). In addition, it also belongs to other international organizations (the International Political Science Association and the Central European Political Science Association). The Department is also involved in other forms of international cooperation (research and study stays) that have stimulated the participation in international research projects. It cooperates with leading departments (eg Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, Germany, Department of Political Science, Leiden University, Robert Schuman Center, European University Institute, Florence, Center for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies, University of Birmingham). Long-term research experience and anchorage of the workplace in the international political community are guaranties that the research team successfully implements the project. 

Institute of European Studies and International Relations (Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences, Comenius University in Bratislava). The faculty has an active research agenda in social and economic sciences and participates in a number of international research projects (approximately 20 national research projects and 7 international research projects, with 40 full-time researchers). It is also part of the international networks as TEPSA, NispaCEE and has connections with universities and research institutes in the world. FSES actively cooperates with the Slovak Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Parliament, National Bank of Slovakia, Ministry of Finance in conducting research, providing expertise and organizing conferences. FSES has experiences with national and international projects and European research projects (5th and 7th Framework programme). Currently members of the research staff from FSES are implementing national APVV and VEGA projects, cooperating with several municipalities on applied projects of behavioural character and have 3 Jean Monnet projects and 1 project of cultural research character with University of Pittsburgh.  

Department of Economics and Finance (Faculty of Management, Comenius University in Bratislava). The Faculty of Management was established in 1991 and entered the history of higher education in Slovakia by being the first faculty to specialize in teaching management and to start working in the field of management. The mission of the Faculty of Management is to prepare quality and competitive graduates who are able to work in teams or hold managerial positions in organizations of various types and specializations based on the latest knowledge of management theory, to which the faculty contributes its own scientific research. The Department of Economics and Finance is one of the oldest departments of the faculty. Within the pedagogical process and research activities, the department covers topics related to economics, accounting, taxation, banking, finance and the labour market. Currently, the department is implementing the project VEGA 1/0647/18 “Determinants of target and process orientation of financial management in the intentions of the development of the current business environment” and APVV-15-0722 “Social trap - costs and the way out”. 

The Department of Security Studies (Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, Matej Bel University). The Department participates on specific projects related to the security science, for example, it hosts “Security Forum” that offers the environment for academics and specialists to discuss the current security issues and established the Centre of Excellence of the Crisis Management that offers a special simulation and prognostic workplace. The Department has rich experience with 7th Framework programme (among many “Functioning of the Local Production Systems in Conditions of the Economic Crisis” or “MOBILE IDENTITIES: Migration and integration in transnational communities”. It is currently involved in several EU and international projects including PROMoting youth Involvement and Social Engagement: Opportunities and challenges for ˈconflictedˈ young people across Europe (PROMISE); Solidarity in European Societies: Empowerment, Social Justice and Citizenship, GENDer equality in the ERA Community To Innovate policy implementatiON (GENDERACTION); Justice and Consumers – DERAD Counter Radicalization Through the rule of law. 

The Institute of Political Science (The Slovak Academy of Science). The Institute was established on 1 March 2002 as a result of transformation of the Institute of Politology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. The mission of the Institute of Political Science is a basic research into political relations and processes within their internal and international political contexts. The Institute focuses on conducting studies in the area of international relations and political systems, the history of political thought, the research methods of political sciences and recent political history. The work of the team of internal and external researchers in collaboration with both domestic and foreign institutions aims at interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research into political activities, their selected aspects, especially social, nationality, psycho-political and historic; such is also the nature of its synthesising outcomes.

RESEARCH TEAM

Matúš Mišík, PhD. is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. After defending his dissertation at this department in 2011 he continued working there as a post-doctoral researcher (project APVV-0484-10 “Changing patterns of EU foreign policy and the small member states”, principal investigator Jozef Bátora) and since 2013 at his current position. His main areas of expertise are EU energy policy with a focus on CEE countries and decision-making process within the Council of the EU. He teaches international relations and European studies and supervises bachelor and master theses on topics related to his research. Four these supervised by him received rewards for best theses, three of them were rewritten into journal articles, two of which were peer-reviewed (Geopolitics and Slovak Sociological Review). Before the pandemic, he regularly attended international conferences and workshops and has switched to online version of some of them (for example, Joint Session of Workshops organized by ECPR in April 2020). 

Mgr. Andrea Figulová, PhD. is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of European Studies and International Relations at Comenius University in Bratislava. She holds PhD from European Studies and Politics which she defended in 2011 on topic of Energy Security and Gas Crisis.  She studied political science at the Faculty of Arts (Bratislava) and law at Charles University (Prague). She worked in the National Council of the Slovak Republic and years of experiences transformed to teaching of various subjects. Her research focuses on Slovak politics and foreign security policy. She was a member of research team of APVV-0484-10 “Changing patterns of EU foreign policy and the small member states” and she also participated at several Jean Monnet network projets. Her latest publication is on the topic of energy security with the focus on energy transition.

Mgr. Zsolt Gál, PhD. is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava. He holds an MA degree in Political Science from this department and a PhD degree in Economics from Corvinus University in Budapest, Hungary. His research interests include public finances, economic aspects of European integration, economic transformation in CEE and international migration. He is the author of the book The 2007–2009 Financial Crisis. What Went Wrong and What Went Different? (2011), his works were published in a number of edited volumes (e.g. Routledge, Palgrave) and academic journals (e.g. International Migration). He studies the economic circumstances and risks of developing new nuclear power plants in the CEE region and therefore he shall contribute to the WP 4. As an Economists, he will be also included in the work within WP 2.

Doc. Ing. Jana Kajanová, PhD. is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Management and focuses in her research and pedagogical activities on the areas of accounting, taxation, calculations and their connection with the current situation in the business environment. She is the author of more than 140 publications (monographs, university textbooks, professional and scientific articles in domestic and foreign journals, scientific papers published at domestic and foreign conferences). She will contribute especially in WP1.

Prof. PhDr. Darina Malová, PhD. is a Full Professor at the Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava. She is a leading expert in the fields of political institutions, democracy, nationalism and Europeanization. She has published widely on these topics in top international journals and monographs, including West European Politics, Problems of Post-Communism, Political Psychology. In particular, she has focused on a democratic deficit during the EU accession process and preference formation in new Central Eastern European member states. She has been involved in 12 international comparative projects, including the 5th/6thFramework Programs, and has led six projects supported by domestic scientific agencies (APVV and VEGA). She has been serving as member of editorial board in several international journals (e.g. Austrian Journal of Political Science, West European Politics) and was a four-time member of European Research Center Peer Review Panels in Social Sciences and Humanities. She will be working especially on Working Package 1.

Mgr. Juraj Marušiak, PhD. is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Political Science, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Bratislava. His research is focused on the history of Slovakia of 20th century and on the issues of international relations in the region of Central and Eastern Europe since 1989. He is the author of Slovak Literature and the Power in the second half of the 1950s (in Slovak, Brno, Prius 2001) and co-author (with Mateusz Gniazdowski and Ivan Halász) of The (Dis)integration Power of Central European Nationalism. A Study of the Visegrad Group Countries (in Slovak, Bratislava, Comenius University Press 2015). 

Mgr. Ľudmila Mitková, PhD. works at the Faculty of Management, Comenius University and in her research focuses mainly on the labour market, especially topics related to gender equality and equal opportunities and the generational differences. She will contribute especially in WP1.

Mgr. Matej Navrátil, PhD. is a Researcher at the Institute of Political Science, Slovak Academy of Sciences and associate researcher at the European Council on Foreign Relations. His research focus includes European Union, organization theory, study of institutions / institutional theory, foreign and security policy of the EU and Europeanization of Balkans. He spent a semester as a visiting scholar at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and co-authored book chapters in international scholarly volumes (Palgrave and Oxford). He published The EU Delegation Sarajevo as an Organisational Proxy of the EU's Administrative Co-governance (Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 2020) and papers focusing on the EU’s role in crisis management, differentiated integration and foreign and security policy. 

Andrej Nosko, PhD. is a Central European energy expert, a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Political Science and International Relations, Matej Bel University. He defended PhD (Summa Cum Laude) in Political Science at CEU, with “Energy Security in Transition: Coping with Energy Import Dependence in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary.” He was a member of the Advisory Board for the ENABLE.EU - Enabling the Energy Union through understanding the drivers of individual and collective energy choices. Within the project he will contribute with assuring high policy relevance of the outputs (WP8), and will examine energy system choices as a function of political system and political leadership, nature of consensus building, interest formation and coalition building at the EU level under the conditions of pandemic shock and its repercussions (WP1). He will contribute by studying what influences how governments respond and what energy choices they prefer, combining domestic interest formation and EU and regional level coalition building. He will also contribute in WP3, WP4 and WP6 through improved understanding of breaking-out of the preferences and policy inertia under the influence of sunk costs and infrastructure lock-in. 

Mgr. Veronika Oravcová, PhD. is Research Assistant at the Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava and Research Fellow at the Slovak Foreign Policy Association. Her research interests are centred on energy transition and energy security in Central and Eastern Europe, she is a co-editor of From Economic to Energy Transition. Three Decades of Transitions in Central and Eastern Europe (Palgrave: London, 2021), a chapter on Slovak energy policy governance in Handbook of Energy Governance in Europe (Eds. Knodt and Kemmerzell, Springer, 2020), and several papers on Slovak energy policy.

Mgr. Mário Papík, PhD., Faculty of Management, focuses his research activities mainly on financial institutions, pension systems and accounting fraud and bankruptcy company´ prediction models. He has received grant for PhD. students and young researchers of Comenius University during 2015 - 2017. He will contribute especially in WP1.

Mgr. Veronika Prachárová is a PhD student at the Department of Political Science at Comenius University in Bratislava. She graduated from Comenius University in Bratislava in 2014 with the degree in Political Science with final thesis on the subject of the interdependence in energy relations between Lithuania and Russia. During her studies she spent one semester as an exchange student at Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania where she also conducted a qualitative research on energy policy of Lithuania. She published a co-authored paper in journal Geopolitics. She will contribute especially to WP 5 (Coal phase-out in Horná Nitra region). 

Mgr. Katarína Rentková, PhD., Faculty of Management, focuses her research activities mainly on the use of structural funds in municipalities and the effective use of funds and available opportunities in the context of ensuring the development of Slovakia. She will contribute especially in WP1.

Doc. Mgr. Jaroslav Ušiak, PhD. is an Associate Professor at the Department of Security Studies at Faculty of Political Science and International Relations Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica. His research interests are focused on international relations, security theories, emerging security threats and focusing on regional security mainly in Central Europe. He is an author of many research papers and monographs. Last of them is Slovakia’s perspective on NATO (in Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 2018); co-author (with Joanna Dyduch, Igor Kosir, Sebastian Jakubowski) Poland and Slovakia: Bilateral Relations in a Multilateral Context (2004–2016) (in Stuttgart, ibidem-Verlag, 2017). He will contribute especially in WP1 and WP4 with his expertise on regional interest representation and formation, and Visegrad Group regional cooperation.

Mgr. Lukáš Veteška is a PhD student at Faculty of Management. His research activities are focused on innovation, financial management and the effects of the pandemic. He will contribute especially in WP1.

Mgr. Radka Vicenová, PhD. completed her PhD degree at the Department of Political Science at the Comenius University in Bratislava in 2020 and currently works as research fellow at the Slovak National Centre for Human Rights. Her research interests focus on the contemporary far right and radical right, particularly in the CEE region. Her latest publication activity has been related mostly to the issue of far-right paramilitarism and vigilantism. She has also participated in the research project focused on how the topics of environmentalism and ecologism are (mis)used in the narratives of the far-right political actors.  

Mgr. Donald Wertlen is a PhD student at the Institute of European Studies and International Relations at Comenius University in Bratislava. During his studies at the Institute of European Studies and International Relations he took interest in the topic of energy policy and conducted both bachelor and master thesis on this topic. Energy and climate policies remain his point of interest also for his dissertation. In his publications, he deliberated on the energy security in V4 amid clean energy transition, and also on the energy policy in EU in context of human security (prepared within the APVV-16-0540 - Human Rights and Sustainable Development in EU External Relations).

PUBLICATIONS AND DISSEMINATION

Journal articles

Other articles

Public appearances and presentations

  • M. Mišík participated in a discussion on energy security at the University of Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Trnava on April 25, 2022.
  • M. Mišík participated in a discussion on “Energy Humanities. New Toolbox for Examining Climate Change Scepticism?”. The event took place at Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku in Zagreb on March 29, 2022.

CONTACTS

Department of Political Science
Faculty of Arts (Comenius University)
Muzejna street 2 (2nd floor)
811 02 Bratislava, Slovakia

matus.misik (at) uniba.sk