In general, political forecasts are not easy, and the Corona crisis greatly complicates market predictability. An interesting example was 2019, an atypical year from the European point of view, with the European elections in May. Those involved in the dynamics of European legislation knew that good communication was crucial in the first quarter of the year, with an intelligence exercise for 6 months until the new power system was identified (influential MEPs, European Commission component, priorities of the new 5-year political cycle), and then returning in force, in autumn, with new and solid arguments.
In trying to analyze the European political year 2021, we cannot identify a major event that would overshadow the Corona virus. The current crisis will have a decisive influence on 2021. Starting from the scientific hypothesis that a pandemic extends over a period of 18 months, since we have now only reached the 9th month, we can advance a theory that by July 2021 we are expected to emerge from the crisis. Of course, the timing of the discovery of the vaccine, vaccination of the population and immunization can play a key role in accelerating or slowing down this post-crisis date. But now we have only these elements that help us anticipate as much as possible next year and we do not have better tools for such an analysis.
The political issues that will gradually amplify within the European public space are also ricochets of the Corona crisis. We will talk more and more about money and power. The EU Recovery Fund is already present, and the packages for each Member State are now being discussed, as well as how they should be used. As a prediction, the absorption of these funds, mostly through national mechanisms, will take maybe even more than 5 years. It is the eternal discussion of the absorption of European funds, some countries will have a rate of 30% and others of 100%.
Gradually, the question of who pays the bill for the economic recovery will become visible. Without wanting to, we will have a discussion about taxation, about how we finance the European system, with wide ramifications in regional, national, European or even global competences. The subject of a euro budget will appear as a solution, especially since there is a project related to this file from a few years ago. Inevitably we will discuss more, once again, about the hard core of Europe and other countries that are not part of this select group.
Patriotism and nationalism will be accentuated, coming mainly from the East of the continent or even from the South. In this cocktail of power, public funds, and fiscal balance, there will be a more pronounced polarization between the two extremes, the federalist and the anti-European.
The economic crisis, the relaunch of a project for European society, the redefinition of European funding, a new European project and a balance between the EU and the member countries will capture the interest of citizens. The elections in Germany, in September 2021, are an interesting horizon to make an analysis of the pandemic and the impact on the European project.
Based on these predictions, the recommendation is to analyze the European affairs market not only in terms of legislative developments, but also in relation to economic recovery funds. The first 6 months of 2021 may look a bit like the present. It is not advisable to have massive physical events until next spring, and online interaction is recommended. Of course in the fall of 2021 we can talk about a return to new normal, trying to learn from the pandemic crisis as much as possible.
Dan LUCA is the Vice President of EURACTIV Media. He lectures at universities in Brussels and Bucharest. He is the author of the book "Mapping the Influencers in EU Policies".