As the EU gears up for elections and Italy for the rotating presidency, a new sense of purpose and possibility must prevail over the pall of stagnation and growing populism that threatens Europe’s stability.
The year of Europe
The EU elections contain all the ingredients for a perfect storm. With populist and anti-Europe parties gaining steam, the Union may be facing a self-sabotaging minority within the Parliament. Still, this may force the EU to sell its case to disenchanted Europeans.
The Old Continent has many hurdles to overcome if it is to thrive in the manner it is accustomed to. But unless these challenges are met, the pall of stagnation will choke its inherent dynamism.
Europe has no choice but to change its welfare model. A look at the variety of models already in place and the factors that will change in the future can allow governments to adapt according to their citizens’ needs.
The notion of Britain opting out of the EU is still not being taken seriously by the majority. Nevertheless, it has seeped into every aspect of political discourse and will determine the UK’s dynamics for years to come.
Scotland will hold a referendum on whether or not to remain in the United Kingdom. Should secessionists win, they will need to disentangle centuries of political and economic ties between them and England.
A dramatic paradigm shift is under way in the energy sector. The current EU energy policy needs to adapt if it wants to achieve a balanced mix of competitiveness, security of supply, and sustainable development.
The European Investment Bank was created in the early days of the Community to support projects aimed at building the infrastructure of a united Europe. Today it continues to do the same, only on a much vaster and more complex scale.
In times of rapid political change, such as what we are currently experiencing in many strategic parts of the world, it is important that a smooth transition to liberal democratic policies be supported by financial institutions. The EBRD is perfectly positioned.
Europe’s leadership role in global economic governance is not commensurate with its economic size and significance. So the US will continue as leader until the eurozone begins to integrate politically as well as economically.
Geopolitics cannot ignore the global distribution of natural resources. Among these resources, none perhaps is as vital and complex as food. Can we feed the ever- growing population on limited land?
Optimizing food production in a sustainable manner is imperative in the near future, especially for developing nations. This will require a merger between seemingly contrasting visions and methods of agriculture.
GMO crops have huge potential to benefit humanity. But can that potential be realized by chemical companies whose primary concern has been selling herbicide and cornering the food market?
Europe and Russia are fighting a tug-of-war over Ukraine, which has been shaken by pro-EU protests that want to depose the president. How the EU deals with its neighbors to the east is likely to affect its strategy for decades to come.
Australia has managed to skirt the economic crisis successfully thanks largely to abundant resources and sound financial institutions. But the Aussies’ luck may be running out if politicians get too complacent.
There is no doubt that the Earth is warming. Yet while many scientists predict a hot future, others have predicted a new Ice Age in northwestern Europe due to a weakening of the Gulf Stream.