Usually, at the end of the year we look to the future and analyse what the new European political year will bring us. This time, allow me to project the main events on a horizon of three years, so until 2024. To speak in electoral terms, 2024 is a super-year, given that we will have elections in the European Union and the United States, but we can also witness a change of President in Russia that year.
Most likely, the Conference on the Future of Europe will produce a report in March 2022 that will strengthen the expression "European citizens want a stronger Europe, both internally and globally, and the recommendation is to speed up the process called EU Strategic Autonomy". I say acceleration, because at the level of the JRC (Joint Research Center), belonging to the European Commission, dozens of specialists have been working for several years on this concept which will gradually emerge from a sectoral niche at the level of EU strategy.
Strategic autonomy is a concept, in which we will find mainly four sectoral approaches. We have, of course, the health policy with the discussions about vaccination and the Health Union. Greening is a priority, but special attention will be paid to mobility, the price of energy and nuclear energy. Digitization will continue, with a special focus on digital sovereignty. At the level of the internal market, it is interesting to follow the procedure of focusing on European industrial champions, in a balance with the SME ecosystem that the EU wants to help internationalize. If all goes according to plan, the EU will have a say in multilateralism, with a clear focus on the evolution of global structures.
We will discuss a lot over the next three years about the pandemic, a possible economic crisis, recovery plans and their implementation in EU countries. It remains to be seen whether the EU will have the courage to move towards a common budget for countries that have already adopted the euro. That would inevitably lead to a two-speed EU. In this context, we will talk more and more about taxes, trying to have a more accurate look at taxes at global and European level. The development of the EU's military capability, the enlargement of the EU in particular to the Balkans, but also the policy towards the African continent are topics that the EU will pay attention in the next period, even if the progress is difficult to materialize quickly.
However, there are various approaches, related to certain poles of power. Germany has a strong influence on European leadership, no matter what kind of government resides in Berlin. France also it’s at the power buttons, but next spring's elections are crucial for the country's European future. The involvement of the Mediterranean countries, the so-called Frugal or, of course, the Visegrád package should also be followed. It is good to consider in this equation the impact of the great world powers, be it the USA, China, Russia or even how the UK will evolve outside the EU.
There are, of course, sensitive points, generally around national elections. If I remind you of the elections in Hungary (2022) or Poland (2023) you will definitely understand what I mean.
We live in interesting times, without a doubt…
Dan LUCA / Brussels
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