Research project

European Legal Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic (2021-2023)

About the project

Faced with the magnitude of the health risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, States quickly resorted to a wide range of emergency powers. Since the onset of the pandemic, it has increasingly been argued that a ‘constitutional’ pandemic is rising in tandem with the COVID-19 measures via the substantially differing modes of authoritarian/emergency governance triggered by the invocation of public health emergency powers. This project aimed to comparatively examine the use of emergency powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of human rights and the rule of law particularly focusing on three European case studies, namely Germany, Turkey and the United Kingdom. 

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach based on the combination of a doctrinal legal analysis of the COVID-19 emergency measures in selected cases and a critical inquiry into the feasibility of global institutions and norms pertaining to public health, the project offered novel insights into (1) whether there is a so-called European response to global health emergencies; (2) whether the existing (international) legal framework is sufficiently determinate and provides for legal certainty; (3) whether resorted emergency powers are adapted to today’s challenges, and if not; (4) what sorts of challenges they pose to the overarching objectives of modern constitutionalism and the rule of law. 


  • Emre Turkut, Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Fundamental Rights (2021-2023)