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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Lookahead to 2022: a year for rebuilding

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Behind us, a year marked by Covid lockdowns and crises, fears and protests.

Ahead, a Europe that would like to count for more on the world stage, but which is riven by internal conflicts.

Let’s look now at what 2022 may bring.

Covid is not going away

Experts agree: Covid-19 will not disappear in 2022, not in Europe nor especially in poorer countries, where fewer than one in forty are vaccinated.

But the variants are becoming less aggressive, vaccines are improving and new anti-viral pills are a ray of hope: European governments are already placing orders.

EU Council Presidency

Emmanuel Macron has a presidential election to think about, but France is also taking over the Presidency of the EU Council. On the agenda: fiscal rules, the stability pact, Schengen reform, migration and the state of law.

Andrej Babis has been ousted from power in the Czech Republic, so it’s his successors who will take over the council presidency from July.

The Visegrad group of central European countries is changing – with a staunchly pro-EU government now in place in Prague.

Migration

Migrants flee war, poverty and climate disasters: what welcome they should get in Europe is an issue that divides governments, East and West, South and North.

The border with Belarus remains a flashpoint, while a five year deal with Turkey to control migrant flows in the eastern Mediterranean is now up for renegotiation.

European elections

Portugal is holding parliamentary elections after Antonio Costa’s minority Socialist government became the first in the modern era to lose a budget vote. The far-right “CHEGA!” party is expected to progress.

The front-runner for April’s French Presidential election is incumbent Emmanuel Macron, but he’s facing a host of challengers, including the conservative Valérie Pécresse, and two far-right candidates: Marine Le Pen and Eric Zemmour.

Hungarians will decide whether they want to renew the mandate of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz Party. He faces a tough challenge, with six opposition parties from across the political spectrum joining forces against him under the banner “The Movement for a Hungary of Everyone”.

Economic recovery delayed

The economic agenda will be dominated by the consequences of the Covid pandemic, and the massive spending engaged by public authorities to mitigate its impact. The latest variants are likely to delay recovery, but the release of pent up demand could generate a “spring effect”.

Key Events

  • At the end of January, Portugal’s parliamentary election will be held
  • In February, Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to host both summer and winter games. The US is leading a diplomatic boycott
  • Serbia holds elections in April to vote for a new president and a new National Assembly
  • France’s presidential election will take place over two rounds on the 10th and 24 of the month
  • Hungary’s parliamentary elections will probably take place in April too, May is the final deadline
  • Turin will host the Eurovision Song Contest in May, following Måneskin’s triumph in Rotterdam
  • In early summer, the World Economic Forum holds its annual meeting in Davos under the slogan “Working Together, Restoring Trust”
  • February is the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s accession to the British throne – and platinum jubilee celebrations are scheduled for June
  • The G20 summit will be held in October under the slogan: “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”
  • International cooperation to tackle global warming will again be the target at November’s Cop27 climate change conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
  • Democrats will hope to cling on to their control of the US Senate and House of Representatives in November, but midterm elections rarely favour the incumbent
  • The FIFA World Cup will take place in Qatar across November and December, a first-ever for the Arab world
  • In December the European Film Awards will take place in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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