The EU in 2020: towards the green horizon and digital after the decade of the policrisis

After a decade marked by the formidable policrisis formed by the economic turbulence, the challenge of migration and the Brexit, the EU aims to take advantage o

The EU in 2020: towards the green horizon and digital after the decade of the policrisis

After a decade marked by the formidable policrisis formed by the economic turbulence, the challenge of migration and the Brexit, the EU aims to take advantage of the first year of the new decade to give a tremendous boost to their priorities for the future: in the first place, the Agreement European Green (authentic totem of a new era); the question then digital (strategic basis for the future), aspects of tax, regulatory and innovation; the restructuring of the immigration system and asylum common (stuff that moves masses of votes); integration of the defense (the key to autonomy, geopolitics, european); and the resolution of multiple commercial disputes (the main terrain of struggle of powers).

That ambition to manage matters of substance must overcome the challenge of emergencies on the table, distracting and corrode.

In the first place the Brexit, great pending issue. Everything points to the 31 of January will be consummated the exit of the Uk from the EU. But the first british minister, Boris Johnson, has set 31 December 2020 as the deadline for the closing of a pact on future relations with the eu. Therefore, promises to be a year of hectic and tense negotiations to seal a deal of enormous complexity.


The EU launched its green plan to lead the fight against climate emergencies Moria, the cruel welcome from Europe to the refugees of a Hundred days to lay the foundations of five years

In the second place, by 2020 it must also be approved the EU budget for the next septennium, other corrosive negotiating copará the stage, and that will be the sustenance of all the lines of work mentioned.

In a foreign key, the EU will have to face the competition every time most of the other powers; in internal key, looks come an economic slowdown and remains the thorn in the flank of the populist movements eurosceptics, who not triumphed in the european elections of last may, but they have a considerable force.

all in all, the worst of the policrisis of the previous decade is surpassed; the european institutions have just begun a new cycle with the effect that these moments always represent; the legislatures, German and French expire in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Therefore, 2020 is a window of opportunity.

On all these issues, without pretension of exhaustiveness, follows a vision of perspective supported in the gaze of four european commissioners -the executive vice president Margrethe Vestager (A Europe adapted to the Digital Age); the vice-presidents Josep Borrell (High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy) and Margaritis Schinas (Promotion of the European Way of Life); and the responsible of Trade, Phil Hogan-. Their views were collected during more than four hours of various conversations held in Strasbourg in mid-December, in the framework of a trip organized and funded by the European Commission for a reduced group of Spanish journalists.

The green issue

The conversations with the four commissioners, are evidence of the internalization of the Covenant Green as a major priority of the new phase arising in multiple areas and the ability to become the next big EU flag. “We have set up the covenant on european green. This will colour the whole of the mandate. Each sector, each strategy will have to be rethought to help you reach your goal. In addition, it is a growth strategy,” says Margrethe Vestager (Denmark, 1968). There are many problems, points of resistance, critiques of warmth. “But if you look just two years ago, they would have faced no more than 10 or 12 States of the Union ambitious in terms of the fight against climate change. This has changed a lot. This dynamic has changed so that they ask the voters,” says the vice-president.

The definition of the mechanisms for moving towards achievement of the objective of neutrality of emissions to 2050 will be, therefore, an axis central political 2020. A mission to titan that includes resistors governmental internal (Poland) and external (negationism of the united STATES, reluctance of China, etc); sectoral negotiations; the activation of huge funds to stimulate innovation and compensate the victims.

the mainstreaming of The topic is total. Josep Borrell (Spain, 1947) notes that its mandate includes a “intense climate diplomacy” and underscores the tremendous complexity, even moral, of the matter: “We are going toward the neutrality of emissions. Other countries observe that much of the CO2 they emit is to produce goods that we consume. What is it that counts? Does the carbon produced or consumed?”.

In that sense, Vestager noted the high intensity of energy consumption of digital services. A couple of searches on Google is equivalent to the energy expenditure to produce a cup of coffee, he says, and this highlights the importance of projects of common interest europe in the sectors of microprocessors and batteries to make them more efficient.

Phil Hogan (Ireland, 1960) emphasizes how, also in the trade policy, the issue of emissions will increasingly become a pole star in the management of the agreements. The green transition will play in 2020 a range of extraordinary breadth.

The Brexit

the negotiation of The future relationship with the United Kingdom will mark a strong year. After the victory with a clear absolute majority in the parliamentary elections of December, the british prime minister, Boris Johnson, seeks to establish, by law, to 31 December 2020 as the deadline for the pact, despite the fact that the current arrangements provide for the possibility of an extension of the transitional period beyond that date.

“I can Not understand why the british prime minister is tied to such a short-term trading,” says Hogan. “I live in the hope that he show the same flexibility that it demonstrated in October of 2019,” he adds with a knowing sneer, the commissioner, “when not perished in a ditch (as he had claimed to prefer to accept an extension) and there was an extension until the end of January but denied him for months. It probably is reinforced by its majority, but it would be wise to maintain some flexibility, to at least accept the prospect of closing the principles of the political agreement and may allow time for the implementation of the necessary legislation. If you want to start on the basis that he holds all the cards in the negotiation is making a fundamental mistake in his negotiating strategy,” says Hogan. 43% of all trade of the Uk is done with EU (and 25% of the EU is with the Uk), points out the commissioner.

Boris Johnson, in Downing Street on December 13 after winning the elections. HENRY NICHOLLS Reuters

it Is a negotiation of a striking complexity, covering issues of safety and cultural. Possibly the toughest are the ones that will affect the financial services of the City.

In general terms, the political signals coming from London (and the mere will to settle this so fast) pointing to the will british to negotiate an agreement of minimum standards which leave the hands free to the Uk to seek competitive advantage over the EU in terms of fiscal, labor, social. Brussels should prepare in 2020 for the metamorphosis of the United Kingdom of a partner to a rival, as he warned the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, a few months ago.

immigration policy

From the remarkable wave of arrivals of 2015, the issue of migration is one of the biggest political agitators of the continent. It has moved millions of votes and given wings to numerous parties nacionalpopulistas. Five years later, the EU has still not managed to agree on a comprehensive reform of the immigration system and asylum. While the intensity of the flow has tapered off since then, still having dramatic situations and the EU continues to solving the chronic problems with patches occasional, in the midst of a scaffolding outdated. Margaritis Schinas (Greece, 1962) is the vice-president with responsibility, among other things, to end years of negotiations on a new architecture that ensures solidarity to the countries of the external border. The task is herculean, as shown by years of failure absolute, but Schinas shows optimism and plans to submit in march to the member countries its reform plan.

“The current asylum system involves moving the responsibility of all the countries of the external border. This can not be. It can't be that Greece, Spain, Malta and Italy to assume this responsibility on behalf of others. You have to change the laws and find a way of sharing this responsibility among all. But this cannot be done in isolation. We have to add more things. The main challenge is how to build the covenant so that everyone can find something that interests you and allows you to participate,” argues Schinas.

Children in the refugee camp of Moria in Lesbos (Greece), last November. Carlos Rosillo

Up to now, several countries, especially in the east of the continent, they have been reluctant, or fiercely opposed to commitments of solidarity. The commissioner Greek raises the following ways of working to overcome resistance.

1. “First, we need a wave of agreements with countries of origin and of transit in order to help them to create prosperity, to manage their borders and their structures. There are that raise partenariatos, you can not give only money and investment. They include trade, visas, bags, Erasmus...”.

2. “Second, improve the management of the external borders, with 10,000 permanent staff. We will roll out in spring the first 700 coast guard european. Will be the first body community will have their own equipment, ships, carry weapons, have a uniform community. We are moving towards a model of federalisation of the management of borders”.

3. “There will also be in the covenant an element of legal migration, in order to bring people to Europe with the competencies and skills that it needs in an orderly way, because while we did not have a system of legal migration, we push the illegal”.

4. “In addition, we want to put in the covenant on an important dimension of returns. We have to improve the return figures of those who do not have the right of asylum. One of the reasons why we fail in the attempt of 2016, it is precisely because the Governments of the Visegrad and others did not wish to participate because they did not have the certainty that there was a dimension of responsibility sufficient in terms of border control and mechanisms of return”.

Schinas poses to create a system with different mechanisms of solidarity. “An idea of how to structure more solidarity would be to organize different baskets. A basket of relocation automatic asylum-seekers, other supply media, another take on tasks (e.g. handle returns). The idea is for everyone to contribute to the baskets. Without penalties. The important condition is that you have to have a sufficient number of member States that join in the first concept”.

In the past legislature, the failure was resounding. The commissioner Greek offers arguments for his current optimism: “First, Europe can't let it fail for the second time in such an important thing and there is awareness of it. Second, it begins a new political circle and there are always more opportunities in these phases. Third, France and Germany for the first time have the ministers of the Interior and very strong, very good and the very europeans who are willing to put all the meat on the grill. Fourth, the duo Schinas / Ylva Johansson (Commissioner of the Interior) is a duo well thought out, because I am a Greek of the popular family that knows well the situation of the countries border and the commissioner Johansson is a Swedish social democratic country champion and receive [asylum-seekers]”.

“Europe will remain a territory of asylum. It is what defines us,” says Schinas.

digital agenda

The management of the colossal digital platforms will also be one of the key issues of 2020. This is another issue strategic and cross-cutting concerns tax matters, regulatory, industrial innovation. In the section prosecutor, Vestager cautioned that the Commission will act by the end of 2020 if the OECD fails to put forth a global system to ensure an equitative tax payment by these giants.

“The OECD is working on this. The best would be a solution in that framework, because it would be global. But if not curdled, the Commission will address this again [after a failure in the previous legislature]. We will see how we can rebuild a new proposal. This is very important. It is absolutely untenable that the majority of companies pay their taxes and then look at their competitors and see that they do not do so for reasons that have to do with your business model”, said Vestager.

The vice president also deals with issues of asymmetry, regulatory related to the access and storage of data. “For the banking sector, I believe that the tax question is not the biggest problem. What is the asymmetry with respect to what type of access they have to customer data. There are european banks that want to expand their portfolio of services but do not necessarily have the same access to data that have some of these digital platforms, because we have been regulating the banks but not the platforms. We will work on it. This part applies to the telecoms, which are also subject to regulations. So there are asymmetries in terms of access to data and the way in which this is regulated. We'll have to see if there is a relaxation of the regulation in some sectors if it is excessive, or increase it on the platforms,” notes the vice-president.

beyond the question of platforms, digital and other momentous challenges, among which is the deployment of networks 5G, the subject of a massive international confrontation with the fears of that allotment to the chinese company Huawei is likely to favour espionage activities.

A container ship in the port area of Yangshan (China). Ji Haixin/VCG


The pulses are trade-perhaps the privileged terrain of the rivalry between powers. The EU is navigating in waters procelosas both in the relationship with the united States as with China. In the first case, the specter of a war tariff still flying over the Atlantic and the discrepancies in the WTO would exacerbate the perspective; in the second, Brussels is negotiating with Beijing an agreement on investments.

“With respect to US, we will do the maximum to work with Washington despite the fact that there are difficulties in the relationship,” says commissioner Hogan. “We have a pillar to support the re-launch of the relationship, that is the meeting between the presidents [Donald] Trump and [Jean-Claude] Juncker in July of 2018. But nothing has happened since then, unfortunately. As you know, from the December 11, the appeals panel of the WTO to resolve disputes no longer has a quorum due to the blockage of the US. This is unfortunate. We want to work with US to reform the WTO, to make it more effective, we want to listen to the ideas of the united STATES, but we have not received any to date,” says the irishman.

“With respect to China,” he adds, “we look to September 2020, an agreement on investments. Our goals include better access to the chinese market for european companies in a spirit of reciprocity. We are also concerned about the high level of state subsidies that allow chinese companies to invest in Europe; the question of compulsory technology transfers and, in general, the establishment of a leveled playing field”.

Hogan stresses that will prioritize the effort to ensure that smes can fully benefit from the agreements that have already been sealed and of the future.

Foreign and Defense Policy

The High Representative Borrell has repeatedly urged the EU to assume the role of actor in the great geopolitical game, warning that the alternative is to become a ground game. At the same time, urges you to be realistic. “There is to be. We are what we are. The positions of the different countries are different, to deceive. We have to talk about the differences, search for common positions and unit, and then search for partners, multilateralism”, says the Spanish political. “One of the weakest points of our foreign policy is that our partners are aware of our divisions. In addition, we are moving in a interface delicate between values and interests”.

Assembly of the NATO last December in Watford (United Kingdom).

The challenges of coordination are many. Relations with Russia and the libyan conflict are two issues that will keep busy to the EU in 2020 and symptoms of misalignment. “Russia is a topic divisive. But we have to renew the sanctions. In my opinion, we should not lift them without having gained something from Russia, but it is clear that the relationship cannot be limited to accumulating penalties,” says Borrell.

on the other hand, noticeable discrepancies in several cases between Germany and France. Borrell does not deny them. “I don't think that they are higher than at other times. Maybe now it will make it more explicit,” he says.

on the other hand, the development of a common defence policy is another challenge of weight to the coming year and in which there are pulses different. The issue is one of the flags of the autonomy geopolitical european in a changing world and to a relationship with US that morphs. “On the one side are those who believe in the creation of capacities joint. Define together what we need and how we made it. We spent between all of the 250,000 million a year on Defense, but it is not efficient, because each pursues its own strategy. On the other hand, there are those who have a point of view and more practical, to have forces ready to act promptly on the ground. Finally, those who consider themselves satisfied with the NATO”.

to Improve the cohesion in these areas in times geopolitically so demanding view of the assertiveness of various powers will be a key challenge for 2020.

The great pulse of the budgets

The negotiation of community budgets for the next septennium –to be completed along 2020 - has emerged as the underlying pulse for all the issues on the table. It is a macropulso political between member States and institutions. In terms chunky, Germany and the Hanseatic League are looking for a budget content around 1% of eu GDP, while another large group of countries, especially in the flank to the southeast, struggling for higher levels with the political support of the Commission and Parliament.

the output of The Uk, a net contributor, will open a gap in the accounts. On the other hand, the Commission has promoted a reorientation of expenditure that would reduce the weight proportional of games historically dominant as the expense for rural people to give wings to other sections. It is a battle of winners and losers of the great weight will absorb a lot of energy and attention.

Updated Date: 01 January 2020, 18:00



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