Friday, July 1

More pandemic, geopolitical threats and energy crisis: the challenges of the EU before 2022

After nearly two years dealing with the never-ending pandemic, the European Union (EU) faces 2022 with important internal challenges, how to successfully deploy the recovery fund, and external threats, especially from the East.

The covid remains one of the great concerns threatening the EU, where they try to generalize the booster doses and the vaccination of children and the debate on whether to make it mandatory.

What’s more, between wave and wave of contagions of covid-19, alpha, delta u omicron, crises overlap and multiply and the EU faces a less stable world than it was before the pandemic.

“Europeans are not aware of the world in which they live”, said recently the senior person in charge of the Foreign Policy of the EU, Josep Borrell, who points out the exceptional nature of the European “bubble” of “welfare” that is “under threat”.

This Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen was born with the ambition to be “geopolitical” and the pandemic has put him in the mirror of how dependent the EU is and it needed greater “strategic autonomy.”

It depends, for example, on NATO in the military, on its alliance with the United States, on Russian gas, Chinese goods and technology or on the control of migrants applied by Turkey, according to analysts.

Security and defense

The big bet of the EU in defense by 2022 and that should be approved in March is the call Strategic Compass made by Borrell, one of the few “joys” -he says- since he is in office.

Search make the EU more autonomous in terms of security and defense in the face of new challenges such as hybrid or cyber threats, and contemplates being able to deploy rapid action forces of about 5,000 troops.

The biggest threat that the EU currently has in its immediate environment is the tension between Ukraine and Russia, in addition to political pressure from Belarus through the instrumentalization of migrants on its border.

At the foreign policy level, the EU wants to start having more presence in the Indo-Pacific region and closer relationships with like-minded allies such as the United States and Latin America, against the strength of China.

In the commercial field, In recent months, the EU has accelerated its trade defense policies and the effective application of free trade agreements. that it has underway, but seeks to close or sign those that it has in the making with Chile, Mexico or Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay).

Community sources see it unlikely that Mercosur can get ahead during the French presidency of the EU in the first half of the year.

Energy and inflation

Another of the uncertainties that haunt the EU is the energy situation, with the price of gas at all-time highs, its automatic reflection in the electricity bill of consumers, other hydrocarbons such as coal or oil also on the rise and prospects that the situation will last at least during the winter. Furthermore, European leaders have failed to reach a clear and consensual response to this crisis.

This context, together with bottlenecks in some sectors as a consequence of the brutal economic stoppage of the coronavirus and its subsequent acceleration, has taken the inflation to 4.9% year-on-year in November in the EU, the highest since there are records.

The data has been greatly influenced by the energy shortage (+27.4%) But some industries also suffer from lack of supplies, either because they need components that are in short supply globally, such as semiconductors, or because of the jamming of merchant ships that delays the deliveries of different inputs.

In parallel, the EU starts the legislative development to reduce its emissions by 55% in 2030 compared to 1990 as a path to decarbonize the economy in the middle of the century, a debate that will last for years and is expected to be intense, especially in the possibility of taxing the CO2 emitted when heating homes or in road transport.

Economic recovery

The EU is faced with the task of successfully deploy the recovery fund of 800,000 million euros with which he wants to relaunch the economy after the hit of the pandemic and promote ecological and digital transitions.

With the majority of the national plans approved, the Member States face the first examinations of the reforms and investments promised to Brussels throughout 2022 in order to unblock the aid tranches, a challenge without precedent in the bloc.

The start-up of the recovery fund coincides with a moment of takeoff of economic recovery threatened by inflation and the current supply crisis which, although considered temporary, arouse fears in Brussels due to its impact.

Added to all this is the resumption of the debates on the future of the fiscal rules that establish limits to the public debt and deficit, a debate that the Commission wants to close before the end of the year but that still divides the countries of the world. south and north of the EU.

Rule of law

Related news

The great internal democratic threat during 2021 and that will continue in 2022 is the illiberal drift of Hungary and Poland, both with blocked post-pandemic recovery funds until they reverse their violations of the principles on which the European Union is based, such as judicial independence or non-discrimination.

The Polish Supreme Court’s questioning of the primacy of European legislation or the Hungarian anti-LGTBIQ + regulations have tightened the rope this year with Brussels, which in 2022 will try to advance with its instruments to condition the disbursement of the budget on compliance with European values ​​in these countries; They have, in any case, no intention of leaving the community club.

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