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EU starts a big year

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2019 is set to be a big year for the European Union. Britain is to leave, elections to the European Parliament take place in May and the big EU jobs are up for renewal.


Populist gains?

 

It’s widely predicted that populist parties will make very significant gains in the EU elections.

In France, Marine Le Pen’s anti-immigration Rassemblement National party currently tops the polls of voting intentions and populist parties in several other EU countries including Denmark, Italy and Germany are expected to do well.

However Peter Ludlow, historian of the EU Council and Chairman of Eurocomment, reckons that the likely scenario of a “botched Brexit” will persuade many voters around Europe not to back so-called populist parties.

He notes too that no one is clear which parties qualify as “populist” and makes the point that the so-called populist parties embrace so many different types of discontent that their voters send no clear message.

Peter Ludlow historian of the EU Council Peter Ludlow, historian of the EU Council and Chairman of Eurocomment 07/01/2019 Listen

New faces?

 

The Presidents of the EU Commission, the European Council and the European Central Bank must all be chosen this year.

None of these posts are filled after direct elections but the results of the parliamentary elections in May will be important factors governing how the posts are distributed.

 

Challenges?

No one knows what 29 March (Scheduled date for Britain’s exit from EU) will bring. An orderly departure with a deal in place, a chaotic no-deal departure or even a decision to stay in after all are all possible.

The EU has to agree its financial framework for the next 7 years amid, no doubt, bitter wrangling.

The Euro will be tested by a likely recession.

EU countries still do not agree on how to deal with migrants entering the bloc.

The growing “authoritarianism” of some countries could remain a challenge to the EU. Both Hungary and Poland were charged with flouting EU values last year, although Poland appears to have softened its position.

Meanwhile, Romania will head the European presidency from 1 January through 30 June and Finland takes the helm from 1 July until the end of the year.