EU challenges 2019: a summary

EU challenges 2019: a summary

Following the release of the report by the European Parliamentary Research Service, "Europe's challenges in 2019: Ten Issues to watch", Schuman Associates has prepared a condense summary of the 3 key areas highlighted in the report : (1) 2019 a year of change (2) Technology and (3) Europe in the wider world.

2019 a year of change

Brexit and the European Elections, two events taking place in the first half of 2019, will have long term implications for the future of the EU. The UK leaving the EU in March 2019 will impact the composition of the European Parliament, not only its size but also the political party balance. The size of the EU budget will be affected, as the UK is a net contributor, impacting the negotiations on the future Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) further down the line. As for the MFF, the discussion on the Commission's proposal will continue with the aim of reaching an agreement between all three EU institutions in autumn 2019.

In May 2019, the European Election takes place and already there are indications that the composition of the Parliament will be much more fragmented, due to the decline of traditional parties and the rise of new parties in Europe. The nomination of the new Commission President (the Spitzenkandidat) is expected to result in intense negotiations, as the three main institutions do not feel bound to a specific procedure for this decision.

On 9thMay, Romania will host the Sibiu Summit, the first post-Brexit EU Summit and a culmination of discussion and consultations on the future of the EU. This high level meeting will shape the next European Commission's working programme as well as EU leaders' strategic agenda for the next five years.

Technology

Blockchain, development of 5G networks and electric mobility will continue to be relevant topics. The EU is working on a comprehensive EU strategy boosting exploitation of blockchain technology, based on the cooperation between the public and the private sector. It will also continue with the creation of Innovation Hubswith the aim to link them in a pan-European network.

The link between the Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) andCollective Intelligence(C.I.) will become a rising topic. C.I. is defined as a shared or group intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, collective efforts, and competition of individuals and appears in consensus decision. The role of C.I. is important because the benefits of the technology production are not automatically transferred to the population. It is suggested in the report, that the EU should provide a space where relevant stakeholders in both areas can meet and work together. In March, the EU will present a set of EU ethical guidelineson AIcovering issues including fairness, safety, transparency, privacy and personal data protection, and non-discrimination. 

Europe in the wider world

Negotiations on the ACP-EU future partnership will continue in 2019, as the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in February 2020. The conclusions on the negotiations are expected in July 2019. An agreement was already reached whereby the African Union will coordinate the positions of the African countries during the negotiations, but the upcoming elections in the EU and in a number of African countries could impact this endeavour.

The Commission is also considering to scale the existing EFSD guarantee up to 60 BEUR as part of the next MFF to better leverage financial resources of development finance institutions and the private sector. The establishment of an European Development Bank is under consideration.

In the area of trade, the EU is pushing for a reform of the WTO, and this is a position that the EU will sustain during the 2020 WTO Ministerial Conference in Astana. In 2019, the EU needs to balance its relationship with the US and China.

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